UCLASS to be Descoped for CBARS Conversion AKA MQ-25 Stingray
February 15/18: GA’s Industry Partners—Navy talks FY2019 funding The US Navy has pushed initial operational capability (IOC) of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker into 2026, rather than the rapid acquisition initially planned for 2020. Service officials told a Fiscal Year 2019 budget briefing on Monday that they plan to spend $719 million on research and development for the MQ-25A and now anticipates purchasing the first four aircraft in 2023. Meanwhile, Boeing has been listed by General Atomics Aeronautical System (GA-ASI) as part of its industry team of suppliers entering the Stingray program. The announcement comes after Boeing’s Phantom Works unit revealed before Christmas, its own fully assembled MQ-25 ground test vehicle at its St Louis facility, and the firm maintained that acting as both a prime bidder and a member of the General Atomics team “is good for our customer and reflects our focus on doing what’s necessary to compete, win and grow.” Other suppliers listed by GA-ASI include: Pratt & Whitney for its engines; UTC to design and build the landing gear; L3 Technologies for communications; BAE Systems for software capabilities, mission planning, and cybersecurity; Rockwell Collins for advanced navigation technologies, a new generation of the TruNet ARC-210 networked communications airborne radio and a comprehensive simulation framework; and GKN Aerospace’s Fokker for landing gear technologies.
The idea of UAVs with full stealth and combat capabilities has come a long way, quickly. Air forces around the world are pursuing R&D programs, but in the USA, progress is being led by the US Navy.
Their interest is well-founded. A May 2007 non-partisan report discussed the lengthening reach of ship-killers. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s carrier fleet sees its strike range shrinking to 1950s distances, and prepares for a future with fewer carrier air wings than operational carriers. Could UCAV/UCAS vehicles with longer ranges, and indefinite flight time limits via aerial refueling, solve these problems? Some people in the Navy seem to think that they might. Hence UCAS-D/ N-UCAS, which received a major push in the FY 2010 defense review. Now, Northrop Grumman is improving its X-47 UCAS-D under contract, even as emerging privately-developed options expand the Navy’s future choices as it works on its new RFP.
N-UCAS: Programs & Potential
First Step: UCAS-D / X-47B
Next Step: UCLASS
UCAS-D: Program & Team
UCAS-D: Northrop Grumman’s X-47B
Naval UCAVs: Contracts and Key Events
FY 2016 – 2018
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional UCAV Readings
News & Views
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