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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
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Navy Issues Draft RFP for Carrier-Based Drone

The U.S. Navy has taken another small step toward building its first production aircraft that will launch from an aircraft carrier deck.

In mid-July, the Navy issued a draft request for proposals for the MQ-25 Stingray.

Navy leaders envision the unmanned aircraft meeting up with other carrier-based aircraft to refuel them in flight.

The Stingray program would mean billions of dollars for the winning bidder, and two of the four businesses that want to build the aircraft have substantial presences in San Diego.

Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) — which could be the vendor to beat — manages its unmanned programs in Rancho Bernardo. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is nearby in Poway. Also in the running are Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT).

A Navy spokeswoman said the draft RFP was not available to the public.

The Navy has been vacillating for years over what it wants the MQ-25 aircraft to do. The service is expected to commit to a concept with its full request for proposals. That will be out in another three months, the spokeswoman said.

Northrop Grumman seems to have a lead in the contest because it built two experimental unmanned aircraft that were launched and retrieved by aircraft carriers. Both Northrop and GA-ASI have strong credentials with their unmanned Global Hawk and Predator product lines.

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