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News | Nov. 20, 2023

Press Release: Audit of the Navy’s Management of the MQ-25 Stingray Program (DODIG-2024-026)

Inspector General (IG) Robert P. Storch announced today that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DoD OIG) released the “Audit of the Navy’s Management of the MQ-25 Stingray Program.”  The report raised concerns regarding critical production decisions that the Navy planned to make on the program before sufficient testing and evaluation was completed.  The MQ-25 Stingray is designed to provide aerial refueling capabilities for the Navy’s air wings aboard nuclear aircraft carriers (CVNs), relieving the F/A-18 Super Hornet that is currently fulfilling this requirement.  The MQ-25A is intended to enhance the Navy’s operational capabilities, allowing it to execute missions beyond current capabilities.

Key findings from the audit highlight that the Navy planned to make crucial production decisions before conducting tests and evaluations to ensure the program meets operational requirements.  This included making the decision for initial production before conducting developmental test and evaluation (DT&E) and declaring initial operational capability (IOC) before conducting initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E).

The DoD OIG found that the decision to proceed without sufficient DT&E and IOT&E posed a significant risk.  The Navy's urgency to deploy the MQ-25A to support the National Defense Strategy, extending the range of CVNs' air wings and reducing costs, was cited as the primary reason for delaying these critical tests.

“The audit underscores the risks associated with premature decision-making and emphasizes the importance of comprehensive testing to ensure the MQ-25 program meets operational capability requirements, avoids deployment delays, and manages costs effectively,” said IG Storch.  “The MQ-25 program’s risk documentation, including the risks contained in the acquisition strategy, did not identify, assess, or develop mitigation plans for significant risks associated with the Navy’s scheduling decisions.”  

In response to these concerns, the DoD OIG recommended that the Navy either delay the initial production and IOC decisions until sufficient tests are conducted, or ensure the program's risk management documentation is updated to identify, assess, and mitigate the impacts of making these decisions before conducting DT&E and IOT&E.  The DoD OIG will continue to track these recommendations until the Navy proposes and implements actions to fully resolve them.