The Insider

Navy official says he's 'surprised' Northrop exited MQ-25 competition

By Lee Hudson  
November 3, 2017 at 10:56 AM

A senior Navy official said this week he's “surprised” Northrop Grumman dropped out of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier tanker competition.

“It's unfortunate. We thought that they would stay in the competition, but we have three very capable folks still in -- Boeing, [General Atomics] and Lockheed Martin,” Vice Adm. David Johnson, principal military deputy to the Navy's acquisition executive, told reporters Thursday.

Johnson said Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman's chief executive, sent a letter to the Navy secretary and the chief of naval operations outlining the company's reasons for dropping out.

“We knew that they were worried about the [request for proposals] because we really tooled it toward the tanker, and their X-47B -- if they derived off of that -- it would've taken some redesign to keep it cost competitive,” he added.

The Navy conducted “concept refinement studies” to better define MQ-25 requirements and worked with industry throughout the process, he added.

“It just takes a lot of work -- the CNO personally met with all four [companies] and met twice with [each of] them,” Johnson said.

Navy officials also went to each company's facility as they weighed what to include in the RFP.

Bush announced during a call with analysts last month the company would not bid on MQ-25 because Northrop “could not put forward an attractive offering to the Navy that would represent a reasonable business proposition.”