Key point: Drones are the future.
The Navy will choose a new carrier-launched drone at the end of this year as part of a plan to massively expand fighter jet attack range and power projection ability of aircraft carriers.
The emerging Navy MQ-25 Stingray program, to enter service in the mid-2020s, will bring a new generation of technology by engineering a first-of-its-kind unmanned re-fueler for the carrier air wing.
A central key question informs the core of this technology effort: What if the attack capability if its fighters, such as an F-18 or F-35C, could double the range at which they hold enemy targets at risk? Could such a prospect substantially extend the envelope of offensive attack operations, while allowing carriers themselves to operate at safer distances?
The Navy believes so - and is currently evaluating industry proposals from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics to build the new MQ-25 drone.
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The service plans to award a next-phase deal to a “single air system vendor in late 2018,” Naval Air Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Cosgrove told Warrior Maven. “The source selection process is currently ongoing for the air system manufacturing and development contract.”