The evolution of military aviation continually demands innovation and adaptation to maintain operational efficiency. In the world of unmanned aerial refuelers, the US Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray program stands at the forefront of technological advancement.

However, the challenges posed by component obsolescence have prompted a strategic response from experts within the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.

Let’s take a closer look.

Background on the MQ-25 Stingray Program

The MQ-25 Stingray program, spearheaded by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, was initiated to address the critical need for an operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

The MQ-25, designed to provide crucial refueling capabilities, aims to extend the combat range of deployed F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and Lockheed Martin F-35C combat aircraft.

With the integration of a persistent, sea-based tanker, the Carrier Air Wings (CVW) gains an unprecedented enhancement in deploying combat strike fighters, effectively extending the operational range of aircraft carriers.

Furthermore, the Navy set the MQ-25 to play a pivotal role in pioneering the manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operational concept, serving as the foundational element for future carrier-based unmanned systems.