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Boeing Delivers US Navy MQ-25 Aerial Refueling Drone for Testing

Boeing has delivered the first US Navy MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drone for testing.

It will go through a “rigorous airframe integrity evaluation,” Boeing said on X.

It comes as production delays pushed back the carrier-based aircraft’s initial operational capability (IOC) by a year to 2026.

The service planned to declare the IOC without necessary developmental tests and evaluation.

However, the US Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General flagged it.

The IOC allows the aircraft’s low-rate production and clears it for limited operations. 

Urgently Needed to Relieve F/A-18s

The MQ-25 is urgently needed in the fleet primarily to relieve the F/A-18 fighters of their refueling role as well as for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

Its greater fuel carrying capacity at longer distances than the F/A-18 will enhance the navy’s carrier-based aircraft’s range, reducing costs and improving readiness.

The service intends to have a fleet of 73 Stingrays.

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