Aerospace & Defense

Boeing Lifts Veil on Unmanned Navy Refueling Tanker

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) on Tuesday showed for the first time the aircraft the company plans to enter into a competition to build an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to refuel U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers. The Navy quietly released a final request for proposals in October and expects to make a decision by September 2018.

Competing against Boeing are Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and privately held General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) pulled out of the bidding in late October saying it would not be able to meet the Navy’s contract terms.

The refueling drone, dubbed the MQ-25 Stingray, is being designed for in-flight refueling of carrier-based fighter planes and the drone must be capable of operating from a carrier as well. The Stingray program was conceived originally as a stealthy drone capable of multiple missions and has been gradually winnowed to a refueling tanker. An additional contract requirement is that the drone tanker use existing aerial refueling systems to cut down on project development time, cost and risk.

Boeing showed off its version of the drone on Tuesday in St. Louis. This photo accompanied the press release:

Source: The Boeing Co.


The MQ-25 must be capable of refueling the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler (both Boeing aircraft) and the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed has only revealed a partial illustration, while General Atomics has released an illustration of the Sea Avenger version of the company’s Avenger drone. Here’s the General Atomics concept drawing:

Source: General Atomics


The chief of naval operations wants the first carrier flight of the refueling drone by 2019, and program officers are aiming at having the drones operational in the 2020s. The number of MQ-25As included in the contract has not been specified.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.