UCLASS to be Descoped for CBARS Conversion AKA MQ-25 Stingray
December 21/18: Stingray development Boeing is receiving additional funding to continue research on the MQ-25 Stingray. The contract modification is valued at $90.4 million and is expected to be completed in August 2024. Under the contract, Boeing will perform a number of studies and analysis related to the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the MQ-25 Stingray. The Stingray will be the Navy’s next ‘Group 5’ aircraft. With its implementation the US Navy seeks to close the gap with between UAS and manned aircraft by adding a system that is designed from the outset to operate within meters or less of large manned aircraft. The UAV will have the capacity to carry 15,000 pounds of fuel and will be used to refuel the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35C fighter jets, extending their range and time in the air significantly. Work will be performed at Boeing’s factory in St. Louis, Missouri.
The idea of UAVs with full stealth and combat capabilities has come a long way, quickly. Air forces around the world are pursuing R&D programs, but in the USA, progress is being led by the US Navy.
Their interest is well-founded. A May 2007 non-partisan report discussed the lengthening reach of ship-killers. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s carrier fleet sees its strike range shrinking to 1950s distances, and prepares for a future with fewer carrier air wings than operational carriers. Could UCAV/UCAS vehicles with longer ranges, and indefinite flight time limits via aerial refueling, solve these problems? Some people in the Navy seem to think that they might. Hence UCAS-D/ N-UCAS, which received a major push in the FY 2010 defense review. Now, Northrop Grumman is improving its X-47 UCAS-D under contract, even as emerging privately-developed options expand the Navy’s future choices as it works on its new RFP.
N-UCAS: Programs & Potential
First Step: UCAS-D / X-47B
Next Step: UCLASS
UCAS-D: Program & Team
UCAS-D: Northrop Grumman’s X-47B
Naval UCAVs: Contracts and Key Events
FY 2016 – 2018
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional UCAV Readings
News & Views
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