Harris has received a contract from Boeing to support the development of the mission management open systems processor for the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refuelling programme.

Under the contract, Harris will work in collaboration with Boeing AvionX to supply the mission management processor that will be responsible for managing sensor and communications functions on the MQ-25.

Harris is required to provide hardware and firmware along with Boeing’s open systems architecture solution.

Based on an advanced open systems architecture solution and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology, the processor has the ability to enable faster and easier upgrades.

The processor is designed to provide on-board processing capacities required to support advanced computing needs.

Harris Electronic Systems president Ed Zoiss said: “Harris and Boeing have invested substantial R&D to develop affordable, high-performance solutions that allow for faster and easier upgrades. This contract reaffirms Harris’ strategy to leverage open systems processors into new platforms.”

“The MQ-25 programme is vital because it will help the US Navy extend the range of the carrier air wing.”

The on-board computer will allow for improved processing capacity and enhanced situational awareness.

Designed for the US Navy, the MQ-25 serves as the service’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

The MQ-25 tanker is expected to achieve initial operational capability by 2024. It is intended to provide a much-needed refuelling capability and extend the combat range of fighter jets.

Boeing MQ-25 programme director Dave Bujold said: “The MQ-25 programme is vital because it will help the US Navy extend the range of the carrier air wing, and Boeing and our industry team is all-in on delivering this capability.

“The work we’re doing is also foundational for the future of Boeing, where we’re building autonomous systems from seabed to space.”

Boeing is under contract to provide four MQ-25 aircraft to the US Navy. It intends to test fly the MQ-25 Stingray by the end of this year.