Boeing has suspended flight tests of the first prototype of the promising deck-based drone tanker MQ-25A Stingray for installing refueling equipment on it. It is reported by Flightglobal.
The first flight of the MQ-25A was made in September 2019, and by the time the test was suspended, it managed to fly in total for about 30 hours. According to the plans of the developers, flight tests of the device will be carried out for another year and a half.
In 2018, Boeing won a $ 805 million contract for the construction of the first four copies of the MQ-25A. The basis for the development of the new apparatus was the secret prototype X-47, which was created in the framework of the subsequently canceled project. Initially, the Navy command planned to adopt an unmanned stealth bomber, which could deliver bombing attacks, while remaining invisible to air defense systems. The project was named RAQ-25. In 2016, the U.S. Navy formulated new requirements for a deck-based drone, changing its main purpose. The project was renamed the MQ-25 Stingray and redesigned as an unmanned tanker. At the same time, the military command refused the stealth characteristics of the aircraft, and also removed the ability to carry weapons from the requirements.
On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Navy entered into an additional contract with Boeing for the supply of another 3 drones MQ-25A. All will be used in demonstration and evaluation trials.
The US Navy plans to purchase 72 Stingray units, allocating a total of about 13 billion dollars for their purchase. This will ease the load on the fleet F / A-18F Super Hornet, refueling other aircraft. The Pentagon intends to put into operation the first drone MQ-25A in 2024.