BAE Systems has been awarded contracts by Boeing to supply the Vehicle Management Control System and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) System for the MQ-25.
The MQ-25 ‘Stingray’ is the US Navy's first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft and is designed to provide a refuelling capability for F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and F-35C fighter jets. The contract supports Boeing's engineering and manufacturing development program to provide four MQ-25 aircraft to the USN for Initial Operational Capability by 2024.
The Vehicle Management Control System will control all flight surfaces and perform overall vehicle management duties. The IFF product ensures operation in contested environments by reliably identifying both coalition and enemy vehicles.
"BAE Systems leads the industry in high-integrity fly-by-wire and mission-critical IFF technologies,” Corin Beck, director of Military Aircraft Systems at BAE Systems, said. "Our relationship with Boeing started more than four decades ago and has resulted in aircraft that have some of the most advanced avionics and reduced size transponders in the world."
"The MQ-25 program is vital because it will help the US Navy extend the range of the carrier air wing, and Boeing and our industry team is all-in on delivering this capability," Dave Bujold, Boeing's MQ-25 program director, said.
The US Navy has indicated that the first test flights for the MQ-25 could take place shortly, thanks to a build schedule accelerated by Boeing’s decision to build an example of the aircraft prior to being awarded the contract.
The company recently moved the aircraft from a manufacturing facility in Missouri to a regional airport next to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.