As the competition for the Navy’s MQ-25 tanker drone heats up between Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, it would seem at least two of the contenders believe the decision could come down to which platform offers the most versatility beyond the contract’s requirements.

Last week, SOFREP reported on Boeing’s decision to base their MQ-25 competitor on their now defunct UCLASS prototype – a drone that was designed for carrier-based combat and reconnaissance operations, rather than refueling. While the Navy previously hoped to field a carrier-based drone for combat applications, the emphasis has shifted toward extending the operational range of carrier-based aircraft in recent months, in an effort to offset the capability gap presented by anti-ship missiles being fielded by nations like China and Russia.

In the face of this shift, Lockheed developed a new platform that seemed to be inspired by their previous research and development, while Boeing opted to simply re-tool their existing prototype. That method proved cost-effective, but may have been strategic as well, as it can be assumed that the Navy will soon be seeking unmanned aircraft for their carriers that are capable of more than simply refueling F/A-18s and F-35s. Boeing’s platform, originally designed for combat applications, could easily be refit back to its original specs to fill that role – offering the Navy two drone platforms for the price of one.

Now, it seems Lockheed Martin plans to do the very same, according to a video the company displayed at the Sea Air Space exhibition in Maryland last week.