The U.S. Navy has sent its latest draft request for proposals on the service branch’s future operational carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling tanker to four potential contractors, USNI News reported Thursday.
All four companies initially secured $167 million in contracts last year to conduct risk reduction efforts under the program and subsequently received contract modifications worth a combined $81.5 million in April.
Capt. Beau Duarte, the Navy’s MQ-25A program manager, told USNI News the service branch has identified carrier suitability and mission tanking capacity as key performance parameters for airframe development.
The Navy aims to award an engineering and manufacturing development contract next year and achieve an operational status for the carrier UAV by the 2020s, the report noted.