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Boeing awaits word on refueling drone contract

Boeing is likely just months away from learning the fate of its bid to build the first unmanned aircraft carrier jet for the U.S. Navy. The contract for up to 72 of the MQ-25 drones that serve as refueling tankers for the fighter jet squadrons could carry added weight for Boeing given the expected uptick in demand for unmanned aircraft.

“Boeing believes if it is successful, then aerial refueling is just the beginning,” said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a Washington-area think tank.

Boeing is competing against Lockheed Martin and General Atomics for the contract.

Although Boeing, which has significant defense operations in the St. Louis area, hasn’t said where it would produce the MQ-25 drones, company officials recently showed reporters the prototype built at its Phantom Works facilities in St. Louis.

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