Rolls-Royce AE 3007N turbofan jet engines have been selected by Boeing to power the U.S. Navy’s new MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier-based air-to-air refueling aircraft.
Each MQ-25 aircraft will be powered by a single Rolls-Royce AE 3007N engine, manufactured in Indianapolis, US. The AE 3007N, the latest variant of the Rolls-Royce AE family of engines, will provide more than 10,000 lbs of thrust and additional electrical power to the aircraft.
The U.S. Navy awarded an Engineering Manufacturing and Development contract to The Boeing Company in August 2018 to design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024. The MQ-25 is designed to provide the Navy with a much-needed refueling capability and extend the range of combat aircraft from carriers. They will be the first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft of the Navy.
Jarrett Jones, Rolls-Royce, Executive Vice President, Customer Business, Government Relations and Sales, said: “Congratulations to Boeing for being selected to develop this historic aircraft in support of the US Navy. For Rolls-Royce, it will expand our UAV expertise with unmanned aircraft in the US Navy fleet, which includes the Triton and Fire Scout aircraft.”
The proven Rolls-Royce AE family of engines includes turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft variants, and the total AE engine fleet has accumulated more than 74 million engine flight hours. AE engines power aircraft for the US Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and a variety of military and civilian aircraft in service around the world. Rolls-Royce has delivered nearly 7,000 AE engines from the company’s advanced manufacturing facility in Indianapolis.
The AE 3007H turbofan engine powers the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton and the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft, as well as commercial and business aviation aircraft. The AE 2100 turboprop powers the Lockheed Martin C-130J and LM-100J, as well as the C-27J and Saab 2000; and the AE 1107C turboshaft powers the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey operated by the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. The MT7, a marinized variant of the AE 1107, will power the Navy’s Ship-to-Shore Connector hovercraft.
MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier aviation air system (UCAAS), formerly the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS), is a planned unmanned combat aerial system (UCAV) that resulted from the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program (UCLSS).
On 1 February 2016, after many delays over whether the UCLASS would specialize in strike or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles, it was reported that a significant portion of the UCLASS effort would be directed to produce a Super Hornet-sized carrier-based aerial refueling tanker as the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS), with “a little ISR” and some capabilities for communications relay, and strike capabilities put off to a future version of the aircraft.
In July 2016, it was officially named “MQ-25A Stingray”.
Three of these UCAVs could fly with an F-35 for refueling and sensor operation. The MQ-25 can extend the Super Hornet’s 450 nmi unrefueled combat radius to beyond 700 nmi. The Navy’s goal for the aircraft is to be able to deliver 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of fuel to 4-6 planes at 500 nmi.
MQ-25 is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed refueling capability. According to the U.S. Navy, the MQ-25 Stingray will allow for better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft. MQ-25 will also seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.
The Navy released the final MQ-25 Stingray RFP in Oct. 2017; the competitors were Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and General Atomics. On 25 Oct.2017, Northrop Grumman announced that it was withdrawing its X-47B from the MQ-25 competition saying they would be unable to meet the terms of service for the programme.
Boeing was finally awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract, worth $805 million, to provide four MQ-25 aircraft, on Aug. 30, 2018.