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Boeing reveals next generation futuristic unmanned drone that refuels aircraft in midair

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)
December 19, 2017

Boeing has unveiled its unmanned aircraft system that will be entered into the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 tanker drone competition on Tuesday.

With the MQ-25 competition, the Navy issued a request for proposals in October seeking unmanned refueling capabilities for combat aircraft operating from aircraft carriers such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. The proposals are due by Jan. 3, 2018.

Boeing Defense (Twitter)

On Tuesday, Boeing released a sneak peek of its unmanned aircraft system after teasing the aircraft last week in a video with a black cloth covering it.

“Robust? Check. Ready? Check. Changing future air power? Check it out! See the reveal 12/19! #PhantomWorks,” the caption read.

This led people to speculate what aircraft was behind the cover and if it was a new project with Aurora Flight Sciences or if it was a combat drone.

The unmanned aircraft system is completing engine runs before going to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations next year.

“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years,” Don “BD” Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization, said in a statement. “Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.”

Aircraft have to be able to deliver 15,000 pounds of fuel to fighters 500 nautical miles away from the aircraft carrier.

The unmanned aircraft system will have to be able to launch from aircraft carriers and integrate with catapult and recovery systems.