General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is planning to use a new tank structure to maximize fuel capacity on its offering for the Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial tanker after successful production readiness testing in April, officials said on Thursday.
The integrated fuel tank for the MQ-25 Stingray would increase fuel offload while minimizing technical risks, according to GA-ASI officials.
“The integral fuel tank wing box test article will reduce technical and schedule risk for the program,” David Alexander, GA-ASI’s president of aircraft systems, said in a statement. “Specifically, through extensive validation of fuel containment sealing methods, advanced non-linear buckling finite element analysis models and thick composite laminate construction, we have accelerated engineering design consideration prior to the detail design phase and production.”
GA-ASI is competing with Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] to develop the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler for the Navy. An award to purchase four aircraft is expected this summer, with a plan to deploy the first system by 2026.
Following a successful wing box test to failure demonstration in November, GA-ASI officials verified production readiness of the fuel tank’s wing and tail components in April.
“GA-ASI applied its knowledge of advanced composite aircraft structures to develop integrated fuel tanks in a large-scale wing box test article and a full-scale wing skin pre-production validation article,” officials wrote in a statement.
GA-ASI successfully demonstrated aircraft carrier deck handling with their MQ-25 offering in April (Defense Daily, April 16).