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US DoD Inspector General recommends delay for US Navy MQ-25A purchase

Boeing MQ-25A Stingray test aircraft T1 refuels an F/A-18 Super Hornet in June 2021. The first engineering, manufacturing, and development aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in FY 2025. (US Navy)

A report by the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) recommended a delay to the US Navy's (USN's) Boeing MQ-25A Stingray purchase.

The report, released on 20 November, found that the USN's schedule includes making a Milestone C decision or certifying that the programme can move from engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) into low-rate initial production (LRIP), before completing developmental testing, and declaring initial operational capability (IOC) before completing operational testing.

Though the USN wants to deploy the MQ-25A as soon as practical, “making critical production decisions without conducting sufficient testing introduces additional risk that the MQ‑25 program will not meet its operational capability requirements, which could require costly and time‑consuming engineering changes and may delay the MQ‑25A's deployment”, wrote the IG. “Therefore, Navy officials should either delay the [Milestone C] and IOC decisions until the program office can conduct sufficient tests and evaluations” or update its risk calculus accordingly.

Currently, the IG report said, the USN does not intend to perform any development, test, and evaluation (DT&E) testing before Milestone C, nor does it intend to perform any initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) testing before an IOC declaration. As a result, any problems discovered during those test periods would not be fixed before their associated certifications.

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