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Boeing Delays Delivery of MQ-25A Stingray Tanker Drones to US Navy, Pushing Timeline to 2026

Boeing Delays Delivery of MQ-25A Stingray Unmanned Aerial Refueling Vehicle to US Navy, Pushing Operational Readiness to 2026

Here’s What We Know Boeing, the US aerospace giant, has announced a postponement in the delivery of the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling vehicle to the US Navy.

The drone’s initial operational readiness has been delayed by one year. According to USNI News, citing Rear Admiral Stephen Tedford, program manager of the US Navy, the drone will not be ready by 2025 as initially planned, but instead in 2026.

The first aerial refueler will be deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. The US Navy intends to procure 73 drones. In 2018, Boeing won an $805 million contract to manufacture four MQ-25A Stingray drones by August 2024. In 2020, the US Navy exercised an option to order three additional refueling drones. This decision came a year after the MQ-25A Stingray’s first successful flight during a test. The procurement of the fleet of 73 drones is estimated to cost the US Navy $1.3 billion.

The MQ-25A Stingray’s primary objective is to enhance the range of fourth-generation F/A-18 Super Hornet carrier-based fighters by enabling mid-air refueling. Ground trials for the drones are currently being conducted at USS Norfolk in Virginia. With a length of 15.5 meters and a wingspan of nearly 23 meters (9.5 meters when folded), the MQ-25A Stingray is capable of reaching speeds of up to 620 km/h. It possesses a combat radius exceeding 900 km and can carry a payload of 6.8 tonnes.

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