Author Topic: MQ-25A Stingray  (Read 6154 times)

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Offline tomahawk6

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MQ-25A Stingray
« on: July 22, 2016, 09:05:06 »
The USN has decided the Stingray will be a tanker with other capabilities.A tanker is ok but its best role IMO would be as a strike aircraft.



https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/meet-uss-answer-chinas-carrier-202800565.html

The US Navy just named the first carrier-based Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) the MQ-25A Stingray.

The Navy has been pursuing a carrier-based drone since 2006 — first as a long-range stealthy bomber, then as a surveillance and strike craft, and finally as a flying tanker. Though air-to-air refueling is hardly a breakthrough, having a carrier-based tanker provides the Navy with a possible solution to one of their most pressing problems — anti-access area denial (A2AD).

Offline Dimsum

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2016, 10:23:40 »
That is not surprising in the least - no lives to carry (or risk lose) if things go south.  Next wlll be transport aircraft for cargo, then who knows?
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Offline SupersonicMax

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2016, 11:50:36 »
Technology is not quite mature enough to have a fully automated drone conduct anything else than flight admin tasks or surveillance.  The risks are still to high for the idea to be palatable to the leadership.

It is the first step to a lond road towards automated airborne weapons system, but there is still a lot to be done.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2016, 13:14:39 »
Technology is not quite mature enough to have a fully automated drone conduct anything else than flight admin tasks or surveillance.  The risks are still to high for the idea to be palatable to the leadership.

It is the first step to a lond road towards automated airborne weapons system, but there is still a lot to be done.

Where does it say it was fully automated?  I would have expected something like the Reaper with local launch/recovery, US-based mission crew.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2016, 13:47:40 »
I can`t recall have they actually done inflight refueling from thisÉ (effing french keyboard.......)

Offline SupersonicMax

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2016, 14:14:22 »
Dimsum, the MQ-25 will be a continuation of the X-47B program which, beyond flight deck handling, is fully automated.  The X-47 conducted automated carrier landings and air-to-air refueling. 

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2016, 14:30:16 »
Couldn't a next step be - after the tanker, after the surveillance, after the cargo - an arsenal/magazine for long range strike missiles?
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2016, 15:48:27 »
Hmmm. Drones UAVs to refuel dronesUAVs. This could benefit the loiter times over targets.
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2016, 17:26:29 »
Hmmm. Drones UAVs to refuel dronesUAVs. This could benefit the loiter times over targets.

The MQ-25 will be a drone for all intents and purposes.

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2016, 17:30:40 »
The MQ-25 will be a drone for all intents and purposes.

Preset course and no pilot?
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2016, 18:27:55 »
Preset course and no pilot?

Yup.  Preset mission and no pilot.  It can even land on a carrier and do A/A refueling by itself.

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2016, 21:28:03 »
I am pretty impressed. The lack dedicated tankers onboard USN Carriers has been a big issue for the past decade or two. Using UAVs for that role is an elegant solution, IMHO.

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2016, 22:01:30 »
Yup.  Preset mission and no pilot.  It can even land on a carrier and do A/A refueling by itself.

Without wandering into OPSEC, how hard is it for a UAV to cut laps at a distance away from the carrier and refuel small(ish) aircraft using a basket?  I don't know much about AAR ops but I thought the "tankee" does most (if not all) of the manoeuvring to keep on station with the tanker?
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2016, 22:08:34 »
Without wandering into OPSEC, how hard is it for a UAV to cut laps at a distance away from the carrier and refuel small(ish) aircraft using a basket?  I don't know much about AAR ops but I thought the "tankee" does most (if not all) of the manoeuvring to keep on station with the tanker?
By A/A refueling I mean the thing will take gas from another aircraft by itself: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rIRwsOG_AYQ

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2016, 22:31:24 »
By A/A refueling I mean the thing will take gas from another aircraft by itself: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rIRwsOG_AYQ

Yes, but what I take away from the article is that the MQ-25A will be a tanker aircraft with some other roles, so it wouldn't be the receiving aircraft.
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2016, 22:35:42 »
Yes, but what I take away from the article is that the MQ-25A will be a tanker aircraft with some other roles, so it wouldn't be the receiving aircraft.

The I guess I missed what your question actually was.

If you are asking if the recovery tanker mission is easy, from people who have done it (Rhino pilots and WSOs), yes it is.  The most critical part is getting aboard with no real option (short of launching another tanker) to get gas if you need it. 

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2016, 16:19:53 »
MQ25A Stingray to be primarily tanker, ISR later; not stealthy, presumably no strike capability really.  Need range, range, range for combat aircraft vs China and Russia:

Quote
CNO: New Stingray drone will be a tanker

Amid mounting criticism that the Navy’s new drone is suffering an identity crisis, the Navy’s top officer wants to make it clear: The MQ-25 Stingray is going to be tanker.

Critics argue that the next-generation unmanned aircraft was trying to do too much in aiming to be a tanker for the manned air wing and an roving sensor, but Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson emphasized in an interview that the yet-to-be-designed Stingray would be primarily for aerial refueling missions.

“The Navy is very clearly aligned on an unmanned aircraft that will provide, first and foremost, tanking to the air wing,” Richardson said in an Navy Times interview Monday. “We feel the need to extend the strike range of the air wing out and this will primarily be a mission tanker to extend that range out. Those are the features that will drive the design of the airframe.”

Richardson said that once the service gets the design for the aerial tanker straightened out, they can add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance features.

“Now when you get to that point, and you find the optimal things for the tanking mission, for little to no additional cost you can put a sensing payload on it and get some ISR benefit as a secondary feature of the aircraft,” Richardson said. “That is what we are building.”

The Stingray is slated to be the Navy's carrier-based UAV, following in the flight path of the X-47B that proved a drone could take off and land on flattops and refuel with piloted tankers. The plan for the Stingray came under fire recently after comments from the service’s top aviator were seen to mean the service was struggling with requirements.

During a presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Naval Air Forces head Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker told the audience that designers were trying to find a balance between the design requirements for tanking — which requires a big fuel capacity to fly long distances — and the fuel efficient, big wingspan requirements for an ISR drone that can hover overhead for extended periods.

“If you’re going to be a tanker at range, you’re obviously going to have to be able to carry a fair amount of fuel internal to the platform. That drives the different design for those two,” Shoemaker said. "So the industry is working on an analysis of where that sweet spot is to do both of those missions.”

The Navy canceled a program to develop an unmanned ISR and strike platform in February in favor of an aerial tanker to increase the range of the aircraft carrier’s strike arm, as potential foes like China and Russia have been feverishly working to extend the range of their shore-based anti-ship missiles.

There should be no design trade-off that splits the difference between ISR and aerial tanking requirements, argues Jerry Hendrix, a retired naval flight officer and analyst with the Center for a New American Security.

“Shoemaker, to his credit, acknowledged that the design priorities of strike and ISR were discordant with each other,” Hendrix wrote in a column for National Defense Magazine. “It is clear that trying to get to a ‘sweet spot’ between these two is counterproductive and misses the point; the decision to cancel the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program and create the MQ-25 Stingray tanker was done specifically to speedily address the Navy’s strategic deficit in long range strike.”

In the interview, Richardson said the Navy is pushing to get the Stingray to the flattop fleet as fast as possible to start learning how to operate with unmanned aircraft. As the Navy adapts, Richardson said, the Stingray may evolve as well. But Richardson is also wary of creating a runaway program with ballooning requirements.

“As we get this on deck, we’re going to learn a tremendous amount on how to integrate an unmanned aircraft into an air wing: How to bring it on, take it off, maintain it at sea, and all those unique things that go along with that aircraft. All of that may allow us, as technology moves forward, to evolve.

“But for the first step it’s important that we confine our thinking so we can get something on the aircraft carrier quickly, as quickly as we can possibly move in fact, that will fulfill a legitimate need. We’ve got [F/A-18E/F] Super Hornets right now doing the tanking mission, I’d love to have those available for strike.”

In his remarks, Shoemaker stressed that tanking was the primary role of the aircraft, but that it was not going to be a stealth aircraft: something that was a key consideration of the UCLASS program. But preventing the taker from getting shot down is an important consideration to achieve the goal of extending the range of the air wing.

"I think in the latest round we have not stressed the survivability piece," Shoemaker had said. "If you look at where we are with industry partners, there are some shapes that have been designed already that help in that survivability piece. ... Even though we've not said that survivability is a big parameter this time around, I think there are ways to take advantage of some of the shapes already out there."
https://www.navytimes.com/articles/cno-new-stingray-drone-will-be-a-tanker

More on the need for range, both USAF and USN:

Quote
USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/mark-collins-usaf-officers-give-new-details-for-f-35-in-war-with-china/

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2017, 11:46:05 »
Why USN needs MQ-25 Stingray tanker--range, range, range for fighters [further links at original]:

Quote
Navy Must Boost Carrier Air Wings’ Range, Size & Lethality

Paris Air Show attendees take note. The Navy needs more new strike fighters to cope with falling readiness rates. Will they be Super Hornets, F-35s or Block III Super Hornets? What mix does the US Navy need as it grapples with boosting the size of the fleet to 355 ships? And what about the MQ-25 Stingray: Should it be a tanker or a bomber or change over time? Jerry Hendrix, the well-connected naval expert at the Center for New American Security explores these issues and more. Read on! The Editor.

Congressional leaders, DoD policy makers, and think tank denizens in the age dominated by the strategic goal of reaching 355 ships, risk losing focus on the other critical challenge facing the Navy today: improving the carrier air wing.

Currently the air wing faces three significant challenges that places the carrier’s relevance in jeopardy. First, the its ability to penetrate newly emerging Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) environments increasingly populated by advanced Russian S-400 and Chinese HQ-9 surface to air missiles is challenged. Second, naval aviation faces a shortfall of 100 aircraft that is causing it to burn through planes faster than they are being replaced. Lastly, the air wing lacks the range to reach its targets as the carriers are pushed farther from shore by new anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles. If the Navy does not make significant investments in its carrier air wings, then the super carrier, the naval asset that puts the “power” in power projection and  most epitomizes modern American military might, risks being rendered irrelevant.

...Much has been written in the past about the fact that the carrier air wing’s average striking range has shrunk from 900 to 500 nautical miles over the past 25 years while China and Russia have invested in new A2AD systems such as the carrier killing DF-21 missile, designed to keep the super carriers from coming within 1,000 miles of their shores in war time. Future air wings composed of F-35Cs, which have an unrefueled combat range of 630 nautical miles, and Block III FA-18 Hornets, which, with their conformal fuel tanks carrying an additional 3,500 lbs. of fuel, could reach out to 750 miles.  However, neither of these alone can bridge the gap imposed by enemy A2AD systems. To reach enemy targets, the carrier will need to bring a mission tanker back to the flight deck...

Today a strike package sent into an A2AD environment would almost certainly be comprised of F-35Cs being supported by FA-18 E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growler jamming aircraft. The mission tanking requirement would be centered around a basic goal of being able to fully refuel six to eight F-35Cs near the 500 to 600 nautical mile range from the carrier. Given the fuel burn rates associated with Pratt and Whitney’s F135 engine, each aircraft would require a little over 8,000 lbs. of fuel to top off in the 500-600 nautical mile refueling zone. Working from this math, the planned new unmanned MQ-25 Stingray mission tanker should be able to carry the 16,000 to 17,000 lbs. of fuel for transfer to other carrier aircraft at the critical range. Four MQ-25s (80% of a squadron of five) would be required for a six-to-eight aircraft mission package to be able to reach and attack targets over a thousand miles from the carrier, keeping the large platforms both survivable and relevant...
http://breakingdefense.com/2017/06/navy-must-boost-carrier-air-wings-range-size-lethality/

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2017, 12:29:05 »
Quote
Conversations with industry experts regarding the MQ-25 suggests that an aircraft small enough to meet the additional requirement of fitting five within the air wing should be capable of offloading up to 17,000 pounds of fuel during a refueling maneuver conducted in a “sweet-spot” 500 and 590 nautical miles from the carrier (the distance of the F-35C’s unrefueled combat radius).  However, in an apparent effort to preserve a previously rejected 12-hour ISR endurance requirement, naval aviation officials set the MQ-25 fuel offload requirement at only 14,000 pounds at 500 nautical miles from the carrier.  Not only is this 20-25% less than what is achievable, it would result in two fewer F-35Cs being refueled at their maximum radius – a 20% reduction in F-35C striking power.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/below-glideslope-the-m-25-stingray-appears-be-heading-ramp-20287

Meanwhile the KC-10

Quote
General Characteristics
Primary Function: Aerial tanker and transport
Contractor: The Boeing Company
Power Plant: Three General Electric CF6-50C2 turbofans
Thrust: 52,500 pounds, each engine
Length: 181 feet, 7 inches (54.4 meters)
Height: 58 feet, 1 inch (17.4 meters)
Wingspan: 165 feet, 4.5 inches (50 meters)
Speed: 619 mph (Mach 0.825)
Ceiling: 42,000 feet (12,727 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 590,000 pounds (265,500 kilograms)
Range: 4,400 miles (3,800 nautical miles) with cargo; 11,500 miles (10,000 nautical miles) without cargo
Maximum Cargo Payload: 170,000 pounds (76,560 kilograms)
Pallet Positions: 27
Maximum Fuel Load: 356,000 pounds (160,200 kilograms)

F35C

Quote
Carrier Variant (CV)
Span (ft) 43
Length (ft) 50.8
Wing Area (ft2) 620
Internal Fuel (lb) 19,624



So the MQ-25 takes up space in the carrier that could be used by a strike platform but can only deliver 15-17,000 lbs of fuel, or about 80% of the full load requirement of a single F35C.

Meanwhile, a single KC-10, that could be orbiting over the Naval Force to top up the F35s once they have reached altitude, and also replenish them while they are orbiting and waiting to recover, can carry 356,000 lbs or 20 MQ-25s.

Why wouldn't the naval force just co-ordinate with the Air Force's tankers?  Aren't they globally deployable?
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2017, 13:24:08 »
You might not want to advertise the position of your carrier by having a giant radar tgt orbiting 30k feet above it.

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2017, 13:28:05 »
You might not want to advertise the position of your carrier by having a giant radar tgt orbiting 30k feet above it.

OK, point taken.  But even if you're not circling the dot at time of launch, setting up an aerial FRP in the near vicinity of the ingress and egress routes at a mutually beneficial time might not be impossible?
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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2017, 22:08:58 »
The idea of a recovery tanker is only to give gas to aircraft that need it to get aboard.  Every mission is planned to come back with enough gas to go in the stack, hold, and Lamd (ok, a little more complex but you get the idea).  If there are other delays or you miss too many times, only then do you hit the tanker.  He passes 2-3000 lb at the time.  The Super Hornet does that job now (taking up way more space than a Stingray) and offloads around the same amount.  Some will say that you can use the SH in combat.  Sure, but you always need a tanker when jets get aboard and a Spare. 

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2017, 12:36:44 »
Latest from NorthrupGrumman:

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Modified X-47B Breaks Cover As Testbed For MQ-25 Bid

Northrop Grumman is using an X-47B unmanned air vehicle (UAV) as a flying testbed for air refueling systems in support of its proposal for the U.S. Navy’s upcoming MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling tanker contest.

First details of Northrop Grumman’s preparations for the MQ-25A bid have emerged in photographs obtained by Aviation Week of a modified X-47B at the U.S. Air Force’s Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, Calif. The photos appear to show the UAV configured with a wing air refueling pod (WARP) under the left wing and a drop fuel tank under the right wing.

The aircraft also displays an aerial refueling probe over the right wing, which indicates this particular vehicle is likely AV-2/502, the second of two X-47Bs that flew in the Navy’s unmanned carrier air system demonstration (UCAS-D) program that wrapped up in 2015.

Though details are difficult to discern through the heat haze, the WARP appears similar to the Cobham 34” (inch) series which operates over an air speed range of 200 to 325 knots. The power for the system, which can transfer fuel at 400 US gal/min, is provided by a ram-air turbine, which is clearly visible on the nose of the WARP.

The pod under the right wing is thought to be a standard auxiliary fuel tank similar to the 330-gallon FPU-8 or 480-gallon FPU-11 drop tanks used by the F/A-18 Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet respectively. One photo also shows what appears to be an open access panel or possible housing for an electro-optical/IR sensor set in the upper fuselage above the centrally located engine inlet.

Little has been seen or heard about the X-47Bs—dubbed "Salty Dogs" by the Navy—since their departure from Naval Air Systems Command’s Patuxent Rover, Md., facility back to Palmdale in January and February this year...

http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/modified-x-47b-breaks-cover-testbed-mq-25-bid

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Re: MQ-25A Stingray
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2017, 13:13:04 »
Just a slight correction, Salty Dogs is not specific to the X-47.  It is VX-23's radio callsigns, so all aircraft from VX-23 use the "Salty Dog" callsign; Hornets, Rhinos, Growlers, Prowlers, T-45s, JSF and X-47s.