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Carrier Bush prepares for additional Stingray testing

Technicians plan to conduct deck-handling testing of the MQ-25 Stingray on the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) while the ship is underway in December. (Michael Fabey)

Technicians aboard the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) were preparing equipment for at-sea deck-handling testing of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 7 December, according to a media briefing provided that day in the ship's hangar bay.

The tests would begin after the ship got underway later that week, according to the technicians and ship officials, and would be the first of the new streamlined deck-handling equipment, that weighs about 5 kg and can be attached to the operator with an adjustable harness, technicians noted.

The new system is smaller, lighter, and easier to manage than the previous system, the technicians added.

The Stingray is seen as a lynchpin for future carrier operations, helping to increase the relatively short legs of the US Navy (USN) carrier aircraft.

Some defence analysts contend the rather limited range of carrier aircraft pushes the ships to operate closer to the adversary, making the ships more vulnerable to attack.

The MQ-25 is the navy's first carrier-capable unmanned aircraft. The USN decided to develop the aircraft as a tanker in 2017, with some intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) capabilities.

β€œThe programme remains stable, with advance procurement funding in fiscal year (FY) 2022 and first procurement planned for FY 2023,” said Mark Cancian, a retired USMC colonel and senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a CSIS report on the FY 2022 outlook for the US Marine Corps, released in November.

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