The Pentagon announced it had awarded U.S. aerospace giant Boeing an $805 million contract to develop the first unmanned refueling drones for the United States Navy.
Boeing is charged with everything from designing and producing to delivering and servicing four "MQ-25A Stingray" drones, which will enter service in 2024, the Navy said in a statement. The drones - named after their stingray silhouette - will be launched from aircraft carriers, greatly expanding U.S. aircraft range and mission capability.
"This is an historic day," said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. "We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the air wing - all at relevant speed."
Boeing had to fight off General Atomics and Lockheed Martin for the contract. If the four aircraft meet requirements, the contract could be expanded to $13 billion for 72 drones, the Pentagon said.