Boeing unveils prototype for US Navy’s MQ-25 refueling program

Boeing’s prototyping department Phantom Works has unveiled the first photos of their contender for the US Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned refueling program.

This is the first time the company is displaying its unmanned aircraft system (UAS) proposed for refueling US Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.

The US Navy’s MQ-25 project is looking to procure unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. The MQ-25 will also have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years,” said Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization. “Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.”

Boeing said the UAS is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.

Boeing’s contenders in the program are General Atomics and Lokcheed Martin while Northrop Grumman withdrew from the competition earlier this year.

The US Navy’s request for proposals was released in October this year and is due January 3, 2018.