UCLASS to be Descoped for CBARS Conversion AKA MQ-25 Stingray
October 12/17: US Naval Air Systems Command has released the final request for proposals (RFP) to industry for the unmanned MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics were all issued the RFP to compete for the air segment of what will be the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle ahead of an anticipated contract award by September of next year. Basic requirements will have the Stingray deliver about 15,000 pounds of fuel 500 nautical miles from the carrier, with a mission of alleviating the strain on the existing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that are burning through flight hours while serving as a refueling tanker for other aircraft attempting to land on an aircraft carrier.
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 – 2017
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional UCAV Readings
News & Views
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