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US Navy’s UCLASS / CBARS / MQ-XX / MQ-25 Stingray Program

litzj

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totoro said:
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1617374/

So apparently Boeing has won the contract...
Wow, preety fast decision compared to other delayed delayed business.

Is it affect decision of T-X or too small to affect other selection?
 

sferrin

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totoro said:
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1617374/

So apparently Boeing has won the contract...
I'm surprised it wasn't announced somewhere. ???

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8V0bdpmKGg
 

sferrin

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litzj said:
totoro said:
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1617374/

So apparently Boeing has won the contract...
Wow, preety fast decision compared to other delayed delayed business.

Is it affect decision of T-X or too small to affect other selection?
My money is on LM winning T-X.
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-wins-big-navy-contract-for-drones-1535666569
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
totoro said:
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1617374/

So apparently Boeing has won the contract...
I'm surprised it wasn't announced somewhere. ???
It's such a small acquisition, really. Just four airframes.

Which is why I doubt it will have a lot of impact on the T-X decision.
 

flateric

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https://imgur.com/a/PVQvMe1
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
totoro said:
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1617374/

So apparently Boeing has won the contract...
I'm surprised it wasn't announced somewhere. ???
It's such a small acquisition, really. Just four airframes.

Which is why I doubt it will have a lot of impact on the T-X decision.
The program isn't for just 4 units. Where Boeing seems to have won the program that will mean more units down the road.
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
The program isn't for just 4 units. Where Boeing seems to have won the program that will mean more units down the road.
This award is for four aircraft with no guarantee it transitions to production.

Even if they actually buy it out fully, it's less than 80 airframes.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
The program isn't for just 4 units. Where Boeing seems to have won the program that will mean more units down the road.
This award is for four aircraft with no guarantee it transitions to production.

Even if they actually buy it out fully, it's less than 80 airframes.
Sure, but the same could be said of any program at this phase. The point is they're aren't going to have Boeing build four units and go, "whoa, did we say 'Boeing'? We meant General Atomics."
 

aero-engineer

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sferrin said:
Sure, but the same could be said of any program at this phase. The point is they're aren't going to have Boeing build four units and go, "whoa, did we say 'Boeing'? We meant General Atomics."
Well, the US Navy did that after a two unit build mind you.

"The Unmanned Combat Air System – Demonstrator (UCAS—D), is a six-year project that calls for proving carrier operations with the X-47B starting in 2011. The USN currently plans to make a decision after 2013 on a potential follow-on acquisition programme for a long-range strike fleet."

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-awards-ucas-d-contract-to-northrop-grumman-215871/
 

sferrin

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aero-engineer said:
sferrin said:
Sure, but the same could be said of any program at this phase. The point is they're aren't going to have Boeing build four units and go, "whoa, did we say 'Boeing'? We meant General Atomics."
Well, the US Navy did that after a two unit build mind you.

"The Unmanned Combat Air System – Demonstrator (UCAS—D), is a six-year project that calls for proving carrier operations with the X-47B starting in 2011. The USN currently plans to make a decision after 2013 on a potential follow-on acquisition programme for a long-range strike fleet."

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-awards-ucas-d-contract-to-northrop-grumman-215871/
From the contract:

"The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a ceiling price $805,318,853 fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract to provide the design, development, fabrication, test, verification, certification, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing to provide an initial operational capability to the Navy."

That was never part of the X-47B work AFAIK.
 

aero-engineer

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sferrin said:
aero-engineer said:
sferrin said:
Sure, but the same could be said of any program at this phase. The point is they're aren't going to have Boeing build four units and go, "whoa, did we say 'Boeing'? We meant General Atomics."
Well, the US Navy did that after a two unit build mind you.

"The Unmanned Combat Air System – Demonstrator (UCAS—D), is a six-year project that calls for proving carrier operations with the X-47B starting in 2011. The USN currently plans to make a decision after 2013 on a potential follow-on acquisition programme for a long-range strike fleet."

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-awards-ucas-d-contract-to-northrop-grumman-215871/
From the contract:

"The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a ceiling price $805,318,853 fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract to provide the design, development, fabrication, test, verification, certification, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing to provide an initial operational capability to the Navy."

That was never part of the X-47B work AFAIK.
Correct. Specifically to your comment though, the US Navy has not yet shown a follow-on production program in their future carrier airwing documents or budgets.

One would hope this is the end of the six year cycles, but so far:

The Navy held a competition and paid a contractor for six years to build two operationally relevant vehicles to demonstrate CVN compatibility and USN aerial refueling receiving with a follow on decision for an acquisition program.
The Navy now held another competition (after much debate) and is paying a another contractor for six years to build four vehicles to certify CVN compatibility and USN aerial refueling giving to a four vehicle IOC state with an apparent follow on decision and funds for a production program.
 

sferrin

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aero-engineer said:
sferrin said:
aero-engineer said:
sferrin said:
Sure, but the same could be said of any program at this phase. The point is they're aren't going to have Boeing build four units and go, "whoa, did we say 'Boeing'? We meant General Atomics."
Well, the US Navy did that after a two unit build mind you.

"The Unmanned Combat Air System – Demonstrator (UCAS—D), is a six-year project that calls for proving carrier operations with the X-47B starting in 2011. The USN currently plans to make a decision after 2013 on a potential follow-on acquisition programme for a long-range strike fleet."

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-awards-ucas-d-contract-to-northrop-grumman-215871/
From the contract:

"The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a ceiling price $805,318,853 fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract to provide the design, development, fabrication, test, verification, certification, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing to provide an initial operational capability to the Navy."

That was never part of the X-47B work AFAIK.
Correct. Specifically to your comment though, the US Navy has not yet shown a follow-on production program in their future carrier airwing documents or budgets.
Fair enough. It does seem more solid than UCLASS/X-47B/whatever was.
 

TomcatViP

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Well it's not an X anymore but has a proper designation ::)

fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract to provide [...] four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles
 

aero-engineer

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sferrin said:
Fair enough. It does seem more solid than UCLASS/X-47B/whatever was.
UCAS-D (D for "demonstration" program) was X-47B flight test and ran from Aug 2007-2014 and the 2015 aerial refueling was added. First flight was in Feb 2011. UCAS-D evolved from the J-UCAS program of the early 2000s.

UCLASS was development program to develop a future UAS system. The RFI was spring 2010, requirements were formulated, PDR contracts fall 2013 to spring 2014 to four contractors, but the final RFP was never let and portions of UCLASS were rolled into the new CBARS/MQ-25 program in 2016.

UCAS-D and UCLASS were two separate activities occurring at the same time (but in different phases) managed by the same program office.
 

sferrin

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I stopped trying to keep the whole mess straight years ago. In the end tossing away the X-47B seemed like a tremendous waste.
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
Fair enough. It does seem more solid than UCLASS/X-47B/whatever was.
Unlike UCAS-D/UCLASS you're required to have an LRIP quantities/strategy at this milestone for MQ-25.

But, AFAIK, there's been nothing but silence on that point.

LRS-B, a program at a much higher level of classification, had its LRIP quantities/strategy announced *before* the contract was awarded.
 

Mach42

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sferrin said:
I stopped trying to keep the whole mess straight years ago. In the end tossing away the X-47B seemed like a tremendous waste.
"Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don't know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy." - Kelly Johnson (reportedly).
 

fredymac

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Only 2 key performance parameters: carrier ops capable and fuel delivery at range. No tie in for strike/recon application other than the control software that provides the carrier capable operations which will be made open to government transfer for other uses. Does sound like this is a program intended for series production and application to the entire carrier fleet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UunmdNfvP1s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIgBGUatDFY
 

TomS

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Much better sense of scale from these images. That is not a small aircraft. Could be the largest on a carrier since the A3D.
 

LowObservable

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Long wingspan, but less power than any non-trainer carrier jet since the A-4.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/phantom-works-selects-rolls-royce-turbofan-to-power-447360/

Don't forget this was designed as an ISR platform, not a tanker.
 

TomcatViP

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P/W ratio is here less sensitive:

- modern construction techniques make the airframe lighter
- very restricted KPP turn the plane into a flying gas tank only;Tanks that could be emptied quickly in case of an aborted mission to land back with a comfortable P/W ratio.
- Superior trim and pitch and yaw controls makes any landing easier and less reliant on power (when compared to a flying wing)


It is obvious however that if the plane is turned into something that need to carry and trap back with an heavy load of weapons, then the low engine power ratio might be a source of concerns. But still, this is not the case today for any projections that can be made realistically.
 

Flyaway

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Boeing marks first big defense win in more than a decade with MQ-25A

After losing several big defence contracts over the past decade – resulting in consistently falling revenues – Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) has finally notched a big win.
Ultimately, it is not clear if the USN will fully embrace the MQ-25 concept and order a full complement of 72 aircraft, given its conservative reputation and the meandering legacy of the programme, which started in 2010 as the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike programme before evolving into an aerial refuelling mission.

“The navy has changed the concept multiple times, changed the focus of the program, and so there is a lot of scepticism about ultimately how much commitment there is and how many systems they will buy,” says Finnegan, noting, nonetheless: “It’s clearly important [to Boeing] even if the navy doesn’t buy a large number of systems.”
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-marks-first-big-defense-win-in-more-than-a-de-451695/
 

totoro

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What do they mean first Boeing win in more than a decade? What about KC-46 in 2011? Total worth of that was 43 billion, for development and procurement. That's a pretty big win, several times bigger than MQ-25 could be worth, IF all 72 planes are bought in the end. Not to mention Boeing is pretty well set to win further tanker contracts. And in even farther future, it's best positioned to design, make and win any future transport plane contracts.

That being said, I really do hope Boeing wins the T-X as well. Then LM can bag USAF's 6th gen plane and everyone is happy.
 

VTOLicious

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LowObservable said:
Long wingspan, but less power than any non-trainer carrier jet since the A-4.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/phantom-works-selects-rolls-royce-turbofan-to-power-447360/

Don't forget this was designed as an ISR platform, not a tanker.
"Going back to Uclass, tanking was part of the design space. It was a mission we designed into this airplane,” Gaddis explains. “This airplane can meet all of the requirements, with substantial margin. We are in a really good spot."
 

aero-engineer

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VTOLicious said:
LowObservable said:
Long wingspan, but less power than any non-trainer carrier jet since the A-4.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/phantom-works-selects-rolls-royce-turbofan-to-power-447360/

Don't forget this was designed as an ISR platform, not a tanker.
“Going back to Uclass, tanking was part of the design space. It was a mission we designed into this airplane,” Gaddis explains. “This airplane can meet all of the requirements, with substantial margin. We are in a really good spot.
"The UCLASS will be biased toward intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, with some light strike capability."
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usn-to-release-draft-rfp-for-next-uclass-phase-in-august-388154/

If you think about it, a strike and tanking mission are similar. Fly out,offload the payload, and fly back.

Therefore, it is reasonable to presume if UCLASS had "some light strike capability" it probably only had "some light tanking capability".
 

TomcatViP

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As a side note, Boeing has just opened the market for Stealthy autonomous tankers.
 

VTOLicious

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aero-engineer said:
VTOLicious said:
LowObservable said:
Long wingspan, but less power than any non-trainer carrier jet since the A-4.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/phantom-works-selects-rolls-royce-turbofan-to-power-447360/

Don't forget this was designed as an ISR platform, not a tanker.
“Going back to Uclass, tanking was part of the design space. It was a mission we designed into this airplane,” Gaddis explains. “This airplane can meet all of the requirements, with substantial margin. We are in a really good spot.
"The UCLASS will be biased toward intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, with some light strike capability."
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usn-to-release-draft-rfp-for-next-uclass-phase-in-august-388154/

If you think about it, a strike and tanking mission are similar. Fly out,offload the payload, and fly back.

Therefore, it is reasonable to presume if UCLASS had "some light strike capability" it probably only had "some light tanking capability".
Btw, as already mentioned some time ago:

X-47B, 1x Pratt & Whitney F100-220U: 16000 lbf (71,17 kN)
MQ-25, 1x Pratt & Whitney PW815GA: 15680 lbf (69,75 kN)
 

VTOLicious

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VTOLicious said:
The 15000 lb might be doable if the capacity of the Buddy Store + another fuel tank is considered:

Internal capacity "give": 1440 gal (5451 l) (corresponds to 3x 480 gal tanks )
External capacity "give": 1x Buddy Store 300 gal (1136 l) + 1x FuelTank 480 gal (1817 l) = 780 gal (2953 l)

Total fuel "give": 2220gal (8404 l), JP5 @ 0.81 kg/l = 6807kg (15007 lb)

EDIT: In case of the X-47B, 15000lb is exactly half of its useful load:

Empty weight: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 44,567 lb (20,215 kg)

Useful Load: 30567 lb (13865 kg)
...any thoughts?
 

sferrin

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The A2 is over 9,400lb so it's not impossible. (Thought it should be noted that is takeoff only. Continuous is about 8k.)

https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/AE3007_TCDS%20EASA.IM_.E.044%20issue%2004_20150505_1.0.pdf
 

flateric

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TQ1jh_hpXg
 

aero-engineer

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sferrin said:
The A2 is over 9,400lb so it's not impossible. (Thought it should be noted that is takeoff only. Continuous is about 8k.)

https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/AE3007_TCDS%20EASA.IM_.E.044%20issue%2004_20150505_1.0.pdf
Note the criteria includes/assumes:
"No inlet air distortion"
"No customer bleed extraction"
"No external power extraction"
 

Mike OTDP

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I'll be honest, this pick surprised me for several reasons.

The first was that I expected it to come after T-X. Boeing needs something to keep the St. Louis facility open after Super Hornet production winds down, which meant either T-X or MQ-25. T-X was scheduled to be awarded in July of this year, my thinking was that this would be delayed (which has been routine for over 30 years) three months or so...and if Boeing won, the Navy had a free hand with MQ-25.

As for the choice, I had figured that with Lockheed building F-35s for the next 20 years, they weren't going to get the contract. My own bet was on General Atomics, mostly due to the greater level of UAV experience and the more powerful engine.

One thing to remember is that the whole UAV-as-bomb-dropper was something industry was trying to fob off on the Navy. From the Navy's perspective, they had F/A-18s that dropped bombs, F-35s that dropped more bombs, and Tomahawks that were self-dropping bombs. There's no need for another bomb-dropper...but a crying need for a tanker that is significantly cheaper than a Super Hornet. No, the Navy played this right.
 

aero-engineer

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  • "How big is this risk? Several factors suggest that the MQ-25 is a high-risk program from a business perspective"
  • "Both Boeing and the Navy have been burned by fixed price development, but memories in defense acquisition seem to be short or non-existent."
  • The critical question one should ask is what exactly is the contractor supposed to deliver for the fixed price.
  • "Part of bidding to win is accepting the Navy’s desired schedule, which was shortened by two years from the original plan."
  • "Importantly, Boeing doesn’t have control over “carrier suitability” certification. That has to be determined by independent organizations within the Navy, and their determinations can sink a program."
  • "The published estimates suggest a unit cost of about $180 million based on 72 aircraft and $13 billion total program cost. Frankly that seems high, both for this aircraft and for this mission, and it may be difficult to support over time, if it is accurate."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankkendall/2018/09/12/boeing-and-the-navy-place-a-big-and-risky-bet-on-the-mq-25-unmanned-air-vehicle/
 

Sundog

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aero-engineer said:
  • "How big is this risk? Several factors suggest that the MQ-25 is a high-risk program from a business perspective"
  • "Both Boeing and the Navy have been burned by fixed price development, but memories in defense acquisition seem to be short or non-existent."
  • The critical question one should ask is what exactly is the contractor supposed to deliver for the fixed price.
  • "Part of bidding to win is accepting the Navy’s desired schedule, which was shortened by two years from the original plan."
  • "Importantly, Boeing doesn’t have control over “carrier suitability” certification. That has to be determined by independent organizations within the Navy, and their determinations can sink a program."
  • "The published estimates suggest a unit cost of about $180 million based on 72 aircraft and $13 billion total program cost. Frankly that seems high, both for this aircraft and for this mission, and it may be difficult to support over time, if it is accurate."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankkendall/2018/09/12/boeing-and-the-navy-place-a-big-and-risky-bet-on-the-mq-25-unmanned-air-vehicle/
Given all of that, the only company I can think of that might have more carrier suitability experience is NG with all of Grumman's experience. But Mac wasn't a slouch in that regard either. Also, they already have a prototype ready to fly. A couple of things Forbes doesn't know is all of the work that has already been completed by Boeing and experience they may already have with regard to many of the systems on the MQ-25 through classified programs.
 

marauder2048

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Sundog said:
A couple of things Forbes doesn't know is all of the work that has already been completed by Boeing and experience they may already have with regard to many of the systems on the MQ-25 through classified programs.
I strongly suggest you look at the background of the author of that Forbes piece.
 
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