AUVSI: USN, USAF may revive UCAV partnership 3 years after J-UCAS

DARPA’s joint unmanned combat air systems (J-UCAS), with the Boeing X-45 for the US Air Force and the Northrop Grumman X-47B for the US Navy, died in 2005.

The USAF kept the program on life support for one year, but the USN split off to launch a carrier-landing demonstration program (UCAS-D), eventually re-selecting the X-47B over the X-45.

In my interview yesterday with the UCAS-D program manager, Capt Martin Deppe, I found out the J-UCAS partners are back at the table.

The USAF and the USN are in discussions “on getting some air force presence in the navy program offices so they can better understand what we’re doing,” Deppe says. “In return, we can understand what the air force is doing. I think that’s going to be the beginning of a nice partnering relationship because we both have similar requirements in some regards for systems like these.”

The partnership does not include USAF funding at this point, Deppe says, but “it all begins with getting together and starting to talk and find out what the synergies are. Who knows where it goes from there.”

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3 Responses to AUVSI: USN, USAF may revive UCAV partnership 3 years after J-UCAS

  1. Mike 11 August, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    From my distant vantage point J-UCAS seems like a great capability and should be pursued. These are the kinds of vehicles you’ll want to send into harms way ahead of, or maybe in lieu of, F-35′s. It’s almost a carrier capable, unmanned B-2.

  2. Obamanite 11 August, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Maybe the USAF, under Schwartz’s guidance, is starting to realize the inevitable future of UCAVs. We all know how wrong Britain was in 1957 to predict, half-a-century early, the demise of manned combat aircraft. But this is not 1957, just as Amraam, say, is not Sparrow. In other words, technology that in the 1950s underdelivered on its promises, today is closer to achieving them, principally thanks to the revolution in computing power and tech. Now we can only hope that the USAF doesn’t go and develop a UCAV on its own, but sensibly decides to piggy-back onto the Navy program and pursue a land-based version of the X-47B or whatever workable derivative emerges from testing. Land-based aircraft rarely make for good ship-based solutions, but the reverse is not true. Just look at the A-4, the F-4 and the A-7, all of which became excellent land-based platforms.

  3. elgatoso 13 August, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Probably NG have a big version of a X-47B in a black program( remember NGB)and they are already developing it.With Global Hawk,X-47B,and Fire Scout,NG have a lot experience in UAS

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