Metro-East News

Boeing to test new tanker drone prototype in St. Louis

Boeing’s prototype of the aircraft.
Boeing’s prototype of the aircraft.

Boeing will be testing its entrant in the U.S. Navy’s tanker drone competition in St. Louis before the start of 2018, DefenseNews reported.

The aircraft won’t fly, but Boeing expects to conduct engine runs by the end of the year and deck-handling demos in early 2018, Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop told DefenseNews.

So far, it’s just a prototype wing-body-tail aircraft that Boeing will use to conduct tests on before actually taking it up into the sky. It has moved away from the flying wing design, DefenseNews reported, as was expected when the Navy prioritized strike and ISR capabilities for its first carrier-based drone.

Boeing’s prototype is the first in the MQ-25 tanker drone competition to be shown to the public, DefenseNews reported. Competing aircraft must be able to deliver 15,000 pounds of fuel to fighters up to 500 nautical miles away.