The U.S. Navy’s ambitious plans for the MQ-25 Stingray tanker drone have come under scrutiny in a recent report by a top Pentagon watchdog. The report warns that the Navy’s fast-paced approach to the MQ-25’s development is inviting new risks. In a separate announcement, it was revealed that Boeing, the manufacturer of the MQ-25, has been granted an additional $36 million to support the continued development of the drone.
The report highlights concerns that critical production decisions for the MQ-25 program are being made before necessary tests and evaluations have been conducted to verify the drone’s operational capability. This approach increases the risk that the MQ-25 program may not meet the required operational capability, leading to delays in deployment and increased program costs. The Navy’s selection of Boeing’s design for the MQ-25 and the plan to acquire 76 MQ-25As are also mentioned in the report.
Additionally, the report emphasizes the importance of the MQ-25 program in the Navy’s goal of having 60% of its aircraft carriers unmanned by 2040. The MQ-25A, as the first CVN-based unmanned air vehicle, is a crucial step in achieving this goal. However, the report raises concerns about the truncated schedule the Navy is working with and warns of potential issues that may arise after production has begun, leading to costly delays in deployment.
Despite these concerns, the Navy asserts that it has taken steps to mitigate risks associated with the MQ-25 program. Extensive testing using a flying demonstrator, as well as digital modeling and simulation, have been conducted to ensure the drone’s reliability and performance. However, skepticism is growing about the effectiveness of digital engineering tools in complex system development.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is the MQ-25 Stingray?
A: The MQ-25 Stingray is a tanker drone designed to extend the range of the carrier air wing and eliminate the need for some F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to perform tanker duties.
Q: How much funding has Boeing received for the MQ-25’s development?
A: Boeing has been awarded an additional $36 million to support the continued development of the MQ-25.
Q: What are the concerns raised in the report?
A: The report raises concerns about the Navy’s fast-paced approach to the MQ-25’s development, including making critical production decisions before necessary tests and evaluations, potential delays in deployment, and increased program costs.
Q: What is the Navy’s goal for unmanned aircraft carriers?
A: The Navy aims to have 60% of its aircraft carriers unmanned by 2040, and the MQ-25 program plays a crucial role in achieving this goal.
Q: How has the Navy mitigated risks associated with the MQ-25 program?
A: The Navy has conducted extensive testing using a flying demonstrator and utilized digital modeling and simulation to ensure the reliability and performance of the MQ-25 drone.