Boeing [BA] awarded BAE Systems contracts to provide the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) and Vehicle Management Control Systems for the MQ-25 Stingray, BAE said on Monday.

BAE’s director of military aircraft system, Corin Beck, said they lead the industry in high-integrity fly-by-wire and mission-critical IFF technologies and have a good relationship with Boeing. The IFF is a radar-based identification system using a transponder so aircraft can be identified as friendly/coalition in contested environments.

Boeing's pre-award MQ-25 Stingray test asset, designated T-1. (Photo: Boeing)
Boeing’s pre-award MQ-25 Stingray test asset, designated T-1. (Photo: Boeing)

“Our relationship with Boeing started more than four decades ago and has resulted in aircraft that have some of the most advanced avionics and reduced size transponders in the world,” Beck said in a statement.

BAE said the Vehicle Management Control System “will control all flight surfaces and perform overall vehicle management duties for the MQ-25 unmanned aerial vehicle.”

“The MQ-25 program is vital because it will help the U.S. Navy extend the range of the carrier air wing, and Boeing and our industry team is all-in on delivering this capability. The work we’re doing is also foundational for the future of Boeing – where we’re building autonomous systems from seabed to space,” Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, said in a statement.

Last year Boeing won an $805 million engineering and manufacturing development contract to design, develop, build, and test the first for MQ-25s. The Navy plans to eventually buy 72 of the unmanned carrier-based tankers (Defense Daily, Aug. 30, 2018).

The Stingray’s IOC was originally FY 2026, but it has since been pushed up to FY 2024. Boeing is currently conducting early learning tests with its pre-award test asset, T-1, and plans to begin ground-based flight tests later in the year (Defense Daily, April 29).