UCLASS to be Descoped for CBARS Conversion AKA MQ-25 Stingray
June 15/17: US Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), will be the first vessels to carry the MQ-25A Stingray, the service’s upcoming unmanned aerial refueling tanker. Both carriers will receive upgrades to include the control stations and data links needed to control the tanker, and while no date for the upgrades have been set, it is believed that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson intends to accelerate the deployment of the Stingray and get it on carrier decks as early as 2019. News of the first carriers set for the MQ-25A introduction comes as the Navy decided to reprogram $26.7 million for control systems and data link installation the MQ-25A will need to operate from an aircraft carrier, taking that money from the USS George Washington (CVN-73) during its four-year midlife refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
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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