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Boeing Unveils Refueling Drone

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Old December 20th 17, 03:14 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default Boeing Unveils Refueling Drone

Boeing Unveils Refueling Drone

by Mary Grady

Boeing Phantom Works took the cover off its refueling-drone project on
Tuesday, revealing for the first time its entry in the U.S. Navy's
competition. The MQ-25 drone is designed to extend the combat range of
fighter jets such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G
Growler and Lockheed Martin F-35C, which are deployed from aircraft
carriers. The drone will also have to seamlessly integrate with a
carrier's catapult and launch and recovery systems.

Read mo


First look at Boeing's unmanned MQ-25 Stingray aerial tanker candidate
David Szondy

David Szondy
14 hours ago
Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system is completing engine runs
before heading to the flight ramp for...

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system is completing engine runs
before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations
next year(Credit: Boeing)

Boeing has lifted the lid ever so slightly on its entry in the US
Navy's MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker competition. The company
released a partial image of the swept-wing drone that is currently
completing engine runs before starting deck-handling demonstrations
next year. It is designed to act as a carrier-based, in-flight
refueling aircraft for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and
F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter.

Boeing hasn't released any details about its candidate for the MQ-25
Stingray program, which will compete with proposals from Lockheed
Martin and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The image only shows
the central fuselage with its undercarriage, dorsal jet engine intake,
part of the wings, and the canted stabilizers. In some respects, it
resembles Northrop Grumman's X-47B, though with a much thicker cross
section to accommodate refueling tanks.

The Navy plans the MQ-25 Stingray as an unmanned carrier aviation air
system (UCAAS), which was formerly known as the Carrier-Based
Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS). It's purpose is to extend the range
of carrier aircraft by providing an inflight refueling capability that
isn't dependent on land-based tankers. Boeing's aircraft can be
launched using the carrier's catapult and land using the arrestor wire
recovery system, and is designed to operate on deck with other
aircraft as well as folding its wings for hangar storage.

The MQ-25 is the successor to the Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched
Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program that studied the
potential for building an unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft.
However, in February 2016 the Pentagon decided to postpone the full
combat design until a later date and turn the drone into a tanker with
only occasional surveillance duties.

The proposals from the competing companies are due for submission by
January 3, 2018.

"Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90
years," says Don 'BD' Gaddis, leader of 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


Boeing offers sneak peek of MQ-25 tanker drone
By: Valerie Insinna 22 hours ago

Boeing revealed its first prototype for the U.S. Navy's MQ-25 unmanned
tanker competition on Dec. 19, 2017. (Boeing)

WASHINGTON — Boeing on Tuesday unveiled its entrant into the U.S.
Navy’s MQ-25 tanker drone competition, a prototype wing-body-tail
aircraft ready to begin tests this month.

So far, Boeing has released one photo of the aircraft facing head-on
to the camera, proving that the company has fabricated a prototype and
that — as expected — it has moved away from the flying wing design it
considered putting forward to the precursor of the MQ-25 program, when
the Navy prioritized strike and ISR capabilities for its first
carrier-based drone.

“It’s an aircraft with the mission in mind, and we felt confident that
the wing-body-tail design was the best for the refueling mission,”
said Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop, who added that the company
incorporated lessons from its Phantom Ray unmanned demonstrator and
other Boeing unmanned aerial systems.

Revealed and ready! #BoeingMQ25 #UAS future @USNavy tanker will
extend the range of combat aircraft from the flight deck to the fight!
RELEASE: https://t.co/tkDt0R84zB #MQ25 #PhantomWorks
pic.twitter.com/gSgS8xmIRR— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) December
19, 2017

Boeing’s MQ-25 is slated to conduct engine runs by the end of the year
at its St. Louis, Missouri, facility before moving on to deck handling
demos early next year, the company said in a news release.

During the deck handling demonstrations, the company will take the
aircraft to the ramp, which will be marked to the measurements of an
aircraft carrier’s flight deck, VanNierop said. There, operators will
taxi the aircraft via remote control and move it within the confines
of the deck. They will also validate that the aircraft will engage the
launch bar of a catapult.

However, the aircraft will not fly during those demonstrations, and
Boeing has not set a date for first flight, she noted.

“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90
years,” Don Gaddis, who leads the refueling system program for
Boeing’s Phantom Works, said in a statement. “Our expertise gives us
confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when
the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.”
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Boeing has stoked conversation about its “mystery aircraft” for about
a week. On Dec. 14, the company posted a short video of a stationary
aircraft draped in a drop cloth on its Twitter account.

“Robust? Check. Ready? Check. Changing future air power? Check it
out!” read the caption, which then implored viewers to come back on
Dec. 19 to see the plane’s reveal.

Robust? Check
Ready? Check
Changing future air power? Check it out!

See the reveal 12/19! #PhantomWorks pic.twitter.com/92PZCtIQP5—
Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) December 14, 2017

Some aviation enthusiasts correctly guessed that Boeing would debut
its MQ-25 offering, but others speculated that the new Phantom Works
aircraft could be a new version of the Bird of Prey subsonic stealth
aircraft, its Phantom Ray unmanned combat drone or even a new
collaboration with Aurora Flight Sciences, which the company acquired
this year.

Boeing is the first of the MQ-25 competitors to formally show off a
prototype aircraft. General Atomics has published concept art of its
MQ-25 — seemingly based on its Avenger UAS, which bears a strong
resemblance to the MQ-9 Reaper — and has mounted an intensive
advertising campaign featuring a rendering of the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing have also released concept art of their
offerings, but both opted not to show the full aircraft. Instead, the
images show the refueling pods of each UAS connected by probe and
drogue to a fighter jet.

The Navy issued its MQ-25 request for proposals in October with
proposals due Jan. 3, and the company plans to downselect to a final
vendor in summer 2018. From there, the service will purchase an
initial buy of four systems before deciding whether to continue on
with a 72-aircraft buy, Rear Adm. Mark Darrah, program executive
officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, told Aviation Week.

Competing aircraft must be able to deliver 15,000 pounds of fuel to
fighters up to 500 nautical miles away from the carrier.

Northrop pulls out of MQ-25 drone competition

It appears the Navy’s final request for proposals, released earlier
this month, raised questions among Northrop executives about
By: Valerie Insinna, David Larter

In October, Northrop Grumman unexpectedly dropped out of the
competition — a move that surprised experts who had long held that
Northrop’s X-47B was the favorite in the competition, as the company
had already demonstrated it could conduct flying operations from a

Northrop’s departure signaled to some analysts that the Navy’s
requirements could favor wing-body-tail designs, not the flying wings
thought to be proposed by Northrop and Lockheed.

Phil Finnegan, a Teal Group analyst who studies UAS, told Defense News
in October that Northrop’s exit could pave the way for Boeing to be
the new front-runner, given the company’s extensive experience in
naval aviation.

“Boeing is expected to use parts that are used by the F/A-18 in a bid
to keep costs down. It also has considerable experience with tankers
since it builds the Air Force tanker,” he said.

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