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Boeing to develop refuelling drones for Pentagon

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The Pentagon announced on Thursday it had awarded US aerospace giant Boeing an US$805 million contract to develop the first unmanned refuelling drones for the United States Navy.

[WASHINGTON] The Pentagon announced on Thursday it had awarded US aerospace giant Boeing an US$805 million contract to develop the first unmanned refuelling drones for the United States Navy.

Boeing is charged with everything from designing and producing to delivering and servicing four "MQ-25A Stingray" drones, which will enter service in 2024, the Navy said in a statement.

The drones - named after their stingray silhouette - will be launched from aircraft carriers, greatly expanding US aircrafts' range and mission capability.

"This is an historic day," said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.

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"We will look back on this day and recognise that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the air wing - all at relevant speed."

Boeing had to fight off General Atomics and Lockheed Martin for the contract. If the four aircraft meet requirements, the contract could be expanded to US$13 billion for 72 drones, the Pentagon said.

AFP