Boeing reveals unmanned drone that refuels aircraft in midair

Boeing MQ-25A

Boeing Offers Peek at- Generation US Navy Drone Prototype Boeing

In a news release from Boeing, Don Gaddis says "Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for nearly 90 years".

With the MQ-25 competition, the Navy issued a request for proposals in October seeking unmanned refueling capabilities for combat aircraft operating from aircraft carriers such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. Proposals are due by January 3.

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"Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for nearly 90 years", Don Gaddis said in a December 19 news release. Northrop Grumman meant to submit a bid before announcing in late October that the company would be dropping out of the competition. "Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach". The design from General Atomics has an edge on cost.

The aircraft won't fly, but Boeing expects to conduct engine runs by the end of the year and deck-handling demos in early 2018, Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop told DefenseNews. A Boeing official said the drone will be ready for flight testing when the contract is awarded in September.

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In all, four companies were expected to compete for the MQ-25 contract, including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. The program was formerly called CBARS, Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System, before being renamed the MQ-25. More information and photos of Boeing's MQ-25 should become available in the coming months as the company conducts additional tests.

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