Boeing wins $805M contract for refueling drones

MQ-25 drone

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler, known as T1, is currently being tested at Boeing’s St. Louis site. T1 has completed engine runs and deck handling demonstrations designed to prove the agility and ability of the aircraft to move around within the tight confines of a carrier deck. (Boeing Photo / Eric Shindelbower)

After a months-long competition with the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing has won a $805.3 million contract from the Pentagon to build the first four MQ-25A autonomous refueling planes for the Navy.

The MQ-25 Stingray is meant to refuel Navy fighter jets such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II in midair to extend their range. It will be tasked with delivering about 15,000 pounds of fuel, 500 nautical miles out from an aircraft carrier. That should give fighters an additional 300 to 400 miles of flight range over what they have now.

The drones will launch and land on aircraft carriers, so they’ll have to integrate with the Navy’s catapult launch and recovery systems.

Boeing was in competition for the contract with two teams that were led by Lockheed Martin and General Atomics. Northrop Grumman was invited to submit a bid, but dropped out of the competition last October.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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