Navy focused on UAV just for refueling for faster development and deployment

Currently the US Navy refuels its carrier aircraft with its Super Hornet fleet. The tanking mission accounts from anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of Super Hornet sorties, further exacerbating the ongoing tactical aviation shortfalls in the service.

That demand – in part – is pushing the Navy to get a tanking UAV into service as soon as possible rather than creating a more multi-mission platform.

The Navy’s latest revision to the requirements seem to push all the competitors to a wing-body-tail design for Stingray rather than the flying wing concept both Lockheed and Northrop were thought to be developing for the MQ-25A program.

“The requirements have been defined to be a tanker, so you really don’t want to go with a tailless design if your primary requirement is associated tanking,” he said.