General Atomics Sea Avenger Concept
The MQ-25 Stingray evolved from the ashes of the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program. The program was introduced publicly in the Navy's fiscal year 2017 budget submission. The aircrafted was redesignated the MQ-25 (M for multipurpose) from the RAQ-25 – the Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System (CBARS).
Stingray's primary mission will be airborne tanking, but the aircraft's pylons will also be engineered to fire missiles and drop bombs. The tanking mission is necessary to relieve the carriers' F/A-18s that currently perform that role. Additionally, the requirements necessary to make UCLASS a low signature (stealthy) penetrating air frame have been removed for Stingray.
The Navy is expected to award an air vehicle contract to one prime contractor in the second quarter of 2018 with the initial delivery scheduled by 2021. The Navy earmarked $2.16 billion for the MQ-25 program to fiscal year 2021. Additionally, $350 million was approved for transfer by Congress that had been set aside for continued air vehicle demonstrations in fiscal 2016.
The same four primes that were in contention for UCLASS are expected to compete for the Stingray contract, though the request for proposal will also be open to new entrants.
Final MQ-25 Design Contract Awarded to Northrop Grumman
20 October 2016 - The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, of El Segundo, California, a $35,752,362 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to conduct risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Air System.
Work will be performed in Rancho Bernardo, California (50 percent); Space Park, California (30 percent); and Palmdale, California (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2017. This risk reduction contract is the last of four to be awarded, following those to General Atomics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.
General Atomics Awarded MQ-25 Design Contract
5 October 2016 - The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Poway, California, a $43,736,111 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to conduct risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Air System.
The company joins Boeing and Lockheed which were awarded similar contracts last month to refine concepts and develop trade space for requirements generation in advance of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program. Work will be performed in Poway, California (90 percent); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (5 percent); and Rancho Bernardo, California (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2017.
Boeing and Lockheed Receive MQ-25 Contracts
26 September 2016 - The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded Boeing and Lockheed Martin each $43 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts to conduct risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 unmanned carrier aviation air system.
The contracts will cover refinement of concepts and development of trade space for requirements generation in advance of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program. Work for Boeing's contract will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri (99 percent); and Puget Sound, Washington (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2017. Lockheed will perform work in Palmdale, California (98 percent); and Fort Worth, Texas (2 percent) through October 2017.
Government Accounting Office Releases CBARS Report
25 March 2016 - The GAO released a report entitled, "Unmanned Carrier-Based Aircraft System: Debate over System’s Role Led to Focus on Aerial Refueling" which assesses the current status of the restructured CBARS program (now referred to as the MQ-25 Stingray).
According to the report, the Navy intends to invest more than $2 billion in the CBARS
program from fiscal years 2017 through 2021. That investment mirrors the three segments of the original UCLASS program: an air system
segment; an aircraft carrier segment; and a control system and connectivity segment. The report anticipates a contract award in 2018 leading to the CBAR's initial operating capability of the mid-2020s. IOC for UCLASS was initially intended to be 2017.