Navy Investing More Funds into Risk Reduction for MQ-25 Aerial Refueling UAV
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va.— The Navy has modified the concept development contracts of the four aerospace companies competing to build the service’s MQ-25A Stingray aerial refueling unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and adding a total of $81.5 million to the development program.
In a series of contract awards, Naval Air System Command awarded to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems additional amounts of $24.8 million, $19.1 million, $18.9 million and $18.7 million, respectively, “to conduct additional risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Air System, including refinement of concepts and development of trade space for requirements generation in advance of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program,” according to the April 13 contract announcements.
In October, the four companies were awarded the initial concept development risk-reduction contracts to the amounts of $43.7 million, $43.6 million, $43.4 million and $35.8 million for General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, respectfully.
The Navy’s concept for its first a carrier-based UAV has evolved over the last few years to a more limited mission set for initial deployment. The key performance parameters for the MQ-25 are the ability to refuel aircraft in flight and to operate from an aircraft carrier, although an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability could be added.
The Navy’s request for proposals for the MQ-25A is expected to be released this summer. The Navy plans to field the MQ-25 by the early 2020s.