As I wrote in the previous Article, unmanned aircraft are taking advantage in the military area and large industries such as Boeing, General Atomics and Lockheed Martin are joining forces with the US Navy in the competition for their new prototype called MQ-25 .
The MQ-25 consists of an unmanned aircraft capable of maneuvering in the aircraft carriers making use of catapult takeoff and cable landing systems.
The objective of the Navy for the aircraft is to be able to deliver 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of total fuel to 4 to 6 aircraft at a range of 500 nautical miles (580 mi, 930 km), which would free the Super Hornets F / A-18E / F of the refueling tasks that remain from the set of central missions of the combatants that nowadays suppose near to 30 percent of the flight hours of these airplanes. With this, these hours could be used in combat missions, or reduce the annual number of flight hours and therefore lengthen the operational life of the aircraft.
Boeing has already shown a prototype in December 2017 and it is rumored that they are in the process of a second prototype.
According to the requirements of the navy, Boeing ensures that the capacity of its prototype in terms of loading fuel to 500 nautical miles from an aircraft carrier is over. Although he is still working on the manual for the maneuver on an aircraft carrier demonstrating through simulations tracing a platform of an aircraft carrier on the asphalt at Lambert Field.
On the other hand Lockheed Martin has not officially submitted a prototype of its MQ-25, however, it is said that its design is very risky to present a concept of tanker drones that does not look much like its competitors, since it has offered a plane of flying wing after Northrop Grumman withdrew from the competition last year. Both General Atomics and Boeing have presented similar designs with wings and body in tail.
The decision on the winning model is expected by August 2018, with the signing of the contract in early 2019 and production would begin in the year 2023 with the acquisition of four drones, before an initial operational capacity in the year 2026. The navy plans to buy 72 aircraft during the course of the program.
We will be very attentive to publicize the result of this tough competition and present the news that may arise that will surely be very interesting.
Written by Cesar Garcia
Cesar Garcia is Automation and Control Engineer and a Supply Chain Management Expert