US Navy MQ-25 Stingray Unmanned Aerial Tanker


Junior Member
Registered Member
Thanks anzha.. As soon as I saw these photos I knew they were fake. All you have to do is a quick search on or dvids and you will find nothing....nothing at all.

They were part of Lockheed's promotional material for their bid. They're quite good photoshops, but still photoshops all the same.

Sorry for the short reply earlier, I was a bit busy.

I want to see Boeing's first flight. That sucker is going to look a bit weird in the air. Cool, but weird.
here's what NavalTechnology had to say 17 December 2018
MQ-25 Stingray: the first drone to refuel fighter jets in flight
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

Boeing has secured a multi-million dollar contract to deliver the MQ-25A Stingray to the US Navy. How could this unmanned aerial refuelling capability define the future of the carrier air wing?

Boeing Defense, Space & Security recently won a hotly contested contract to design, develop, fabricate, test, deliver, and support four MQ-25A Stingray unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), integrating them into the aircraft carrier air wing, something the US Navy has been looking at for some time.

“An unmanned aerial refuelling capability will extend the range of the carrier air wing and make better use of navy combat strike fighters that currently conduct aerial refuelling missions, while reducing the human risk factor of such missions,” says Captain Chad Reed, Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation programme manager. “Once operational, the MQ-25A Stingray will be the world’s first carrier-based, unmanned aircraft, providing a robust organic refuelling capability to the carrier air wing,”

Under the contract, worth an initial $805.3m, Boeing will deliver the fully operational MQ-25As by 2024.

The deal was labelled “historic” by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, who said when the contract was announced: “We will look back on this day and recognise that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing, all at relevant speed.”

Boeing takes the lead
At the beginning of 2017, speculation grew that the US Navy was exploring how drones could be used to refuel fighter jets mid-flight. Although Boeing eventually secured the contract, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics also submitted bids. Northrop Grumman was initially interested in tendering but withdrew from the process before making an offer.

At the end of 2017 Boeing began to tease the industry, first via Twitter, suggesting it would “change future air power”. A few days later it unveiled its concept, hidden under a black cover. It said the UAV was already completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations.

On news of the contract win Boeing president and CEO Leanne Caret said: “As a company, we made an investment in both our team and in an unmanned aircraft system that meets the US Navy’s refuelling requirements. The fact that we’re already preparing for first flight is thanks to an outstanding team who understands the Navy and their need to have this important asset on carrier decks around the world.”

“Boeing is required to successfully complete the development of the MQ-25A system that meets all key performance parameters, complete full system integration, complete a formal test and evaluation programme, and develop affordable and executable manufacturing processes,” Captain Reed says, adding he expects flight testing to begin in 2021.

Work will largely be carried out at the company’s St Louis headquarters in Missouri, although numerous other sites in the US and elsewhere will make contributions. Ultimately, it’s believed the navy will acquire as many as 72 of the UAVs, costing around $13bn according to the US Navy sources.

Integrating the MQ-25A into carrier wing operations
Tankers for mid-air refuelling have been a concern for the Pentagon for some time. In 2009, under the Obama administration, military leaders were faced with having to reduce costs, which ultimately saw the closure of programmes aimed at addressing major concerns about the ageing tanker fleet.

Adding to those difficulties has been the different approaches used by US forces to refuel in the air. Traditionally there have been two methods, a ‘flying boom’ or ‘probe and drogue’. The US Air Force uses the boom while the US Navy and Marines favour the probe and drogue, making some operations more complex, as became evident during the second Iraq war.

The introduction of the MQ-25A drone to carriers will be a major step towards upgrading the carrier wings. The drone will use the traditional catapult and launch and recovery systems, meaning there only needs to be modest adaptation to the carrier fleet in order to incorporate them.

“The MQ-25 system requires ship-based control stations to launch and control air vehicles and transfer data while operating from the carrier,” explains Reed. “Carrier modifications will prepare mission control spaces outfitted with control and connectivity systems to support testing and eventual operational use. These modifications will occur in a phased approach and coincide with planned maintenance periods in order to minimise the impact to deployed fleet operations.”

The UAV will have the capacity to carry 15,000 pounds of fuel and will be used to refuel the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35C fighter jets, extending their range and time in the air significantly. Taking off from the deck like any other aircraft, the MQ-25A will have a range of around 500 nautical miles. Personnel aboard the carrier will operate it using satellite and radio communications to coordinate refuelling with pilots.

“The biggest challenge is designing and building a system to interact with the shipboard infrastructure and coordinating with other programs to ensure alignment as they update their systems,” says Reed. Once back on deck, a handheld controller can be used to guide the UAVs.

Currently, the only tanker in the air wing is the Rhino, meaning when deployed, the MQ-25A will add capacity. Together with a new range of weaponry, they will offer an additional 300 to 400 nautical miles of strike range, according to the navy.

“The MQ-25A will extend the carrier air wing mission effectiveness range, close the carrier air wing tanker gap, and increase the number of manned aircraft available for the strike fighter missions,” adds Reed.

Fuelling the future of air combat
“Successful delivery of the MQ-25A to the carrier air wing will be a trailblazing moment for naval aviation,” says Reed. “It’s the first step toward integrating unmanned technology into carrier air wing operations to provide unprecedented capabilities to the warfighter.

“The MQ-25A will be an integral part of the future carrier air wing by providing an organic aerial refuelling (mission and recovery tanking) capability.”

After a few difficult years for Boeing’s defence arm, it is thought the contract might be a turnaround in fortunes. Analysts are tipping the market for medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs to be worth as much as $22.2bn between 2017 and 2026. Analysis by the Teal Group suggests it is currently the second largest market segment, the largest being unmanned combat aerial vehicles, worth just over $27bn in the same period.


Junior Member
Registered Member
Boeing's MQ-25 Stingray tanker drone—
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
the U.S. Navy's Carrier-Based Aerial Refueling System (CBARS) contract last Fall—is on the move in a fairly spectacular fashion. Motorists, including one of our readers, saw the exotic looking drone being trucked on Missouri roads on the evening of Sunday, April 28th, 2019. Apparently, the aircraft is headed to MidAmerica Airport for testing. Up until now, the MQ-25 prototype
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
of St. Louis's Lambert International Airport, where Boeing's tactical aircraft plant is.

Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

She's on the move...
Navy: First MQ-25A Stingray Flight Planned for Later This Year
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

Later this year, Boeing’s prototype for the Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker will make its first flight from an Illinois airport. When the Stingray will start operating from U.S. carriers is less clear.

On April 28, Boeing moved its MQ-25A prototype from its manufacturing facility near St. Louis, Mo. to the MidAmerica regional airport where it will conduct its first flight later this year, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons Rear Adm. Brian Corey said on Monday at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space 2019 symposium.

“The team is working through the software checks and the clearance with the FAA and the FCC, etcetera, to make sure when we operate the aircraft we operate it safely and we bring her home,” he said.

Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
, Boeing won an $805 million contract to build the first four MQ-25A based on the prototype the company built in secret for the canceled Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) competition. Boeing kept the design when the program’s focus shifted to a tanking roll in 2015

At the time, Navy leaders were pushing for a 2024 IOC but Corey
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
is pushing the Navy to move to try and get the carrier earlier.

“When we awarded our contract [in August] we believed we could go to ’24, [but] CNO said ASAP,” Corey said. “I’m not going to give you a date. It’s as soon as we can.”

Unlike other competitors for the MQ-25A contract, Boeing came to the table with a flyable prototype that may help the Navy accelerate the program, Corey said.

“Part of what we’re doing by flying this test asset this year is figuring out how fast can we go,” he said.
“How much work can we get done on that vehicle before we build our first [contracted] vehicle?”

In tandem with tests of the airframe, Naval Air Systems Command is also developing the ground control station and the data links to operate the airframe.

In terms of how the MQ-25A will integrate with the rest of the carrier air wing, Corey said the Navy would employ a model similar to how MH-60R Seahawk crews use with the unmanned MQ-8 Fire Scout UAVs aboard Littoral Combat Ships.

The MQ-25As will be paired with the Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye community. E-2 pilots and naval flight officers will cross train to operate the MQ-25A from the carrier, Corey said.

The Navy is also upgrading four aircraft carriers with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System (UMCS) to operate the MQ-25As from the carrier. USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) will be the first carrier to be upgraded with the UMCS. USNI News previously reported USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) was also scheduled to be upgraded with UMCS.

Corey did not say which carrier would be the first to test the Stingray.



Initial fixed price development contract of $805 million for four prototypes.

Final system design review planned for 12/2019 with LRIP in 10/2023.

There is no critical technology identified with the MQ-25 but there are two critical technologies approaching maturity not resident with the program.


Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
, Boeing won an $805 million contract to build the first four MQ-25A based on the prototype the company built in secret for the canceled Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) competition. Boeing kept the design when the program’s focus shifted to a tanking roll in 2015

Boeing's winning bid for the $805 million fixed price contract was a strategic play. Financial disclosure documents show Boeing took a $291 million loss associated with winning the $805 million contract (source : Inside Defense). Boeing's offer raised eyebrows after Lockheed Martin's top executive Marillyn Hewson told Wall Street investors in October her company would have lost $5 billion had they matched Boeing's winning bid. Boeing's approached the bid with a commercial investment mindset, a deliberate and purposeful decision to position itself to capture significant future market that market segment.