Timeline for fielding MQ-25 on carrier shifts

By Abby Shepherd / May 16, 2024 at 3:17 PM

The Navy's timeline for fielding the MQ-25 Stingray uncrewed aircraft system on certain aircraft carriers has shifted, after a recent provision was included in this week's House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee mark-up of the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill.

While modifications to the compartments and infrastructure of the aircraft carrier George Washington (CVN-73) were originally planned to occur during the vessel’s refueling complex and overhaul work, the schedule shifted, leading to this recent change. Now, the modifications will occur “before the planned deployment date of such vehicle,” according to this week’s mark-up.

While the FY-19 National Defense Authorization Act directed the program to modify CVN-73 during certain maintenance periods, these periods were very short in duration and didn’t align with the current MQ-25 carrier deployment plan, Navy Capt. Daniel Fucito said in a statement to Inside Defense.

“The Program Office worked closely with Fleet representatives, Requirements Officers, and the [House Armed Services Committee] Professional Staff Members to modify the language in a way that was more conducive to achieving the desired result,” he added.

Right now, the program team is currently working to update CVN-73’s deployment schedule, a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense.

Fulfilling the necessary modifications to support unmanned systems on vessels while they are completing maintenance availabilities is important because of limited time, a senior congressional aide told Inside Defense.

Despite issues last year regarding scheduling for the aircraft itself, the program is moving “in the right direction,” the aide added.

According to Navy FY-25 budget information, a reprogramming for the MQ-25 program was necessary to resolve obsolescence redesign efforts and procure two more system demonstration test articles. An acquisition plan approved by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro in June 2023 also delayed milestone C production certification to the third quarter of 2025.