UCLASS to be Descoped for CBARS Conversion AKA MQ-25 Stingray
October 24/16: Four companies have been awarded contracts by the US Navy to conduct risk reduction work on their designs for the MQ-25 Stingray. Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin received contracts for $43 million each while Northrop Grumman received $35.8 million. The risk reduction work will see the companies alter previous designs of the MQ-25 as an unmanned strike bomber to fit its new role as an aerial tanker under the carrier-based air refueling system (CBARS) program.
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 2008 – 2009
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional UCAV Readings
News & Views
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