Boeing has revealed its candidate for the US Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) competition. The Navy is seeking unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of aircraft assigned to the carrier air wing (CVW). Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization said: ‘Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.’
In a surprising move Northrop Grumman announced that it had withdrawn from the MQ-25 competition on October 25. The contractor had extensive experience with the effort and the earlier Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) initiative that saw an unmanned aircraft operate from a US Navy aircraft carrier for the first time. In fact Northrop Grumman had produced the X-47B, which proved many of the concepts that will be used by the MQ-25.
The company’s decision followed its assessment of the Navy’s final request for proposals and its determination that responding to the request was not in the company’s interest.
The service expects to select a winner of the competition and release a contract for full-scale development in 2018. The Navy issued its final request for proposals in October and proposals are due January 3.