The briefing slide on Thursday morning showed an image of a relay race, with the trailing runner who wore an “Air Force” jersey passing a yellow baton to a “Navy” teammate. It appeared during a press conference on the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. Capt Bob Dishman’s idea was to illustrate the evolution of the air force Global Hawk into a Navy platform, but at this show it was the perfect symbol of a larger trend.
The baton is now passed to the US Navy to drive the next wave of major advances in military UAV technology. As the US Air Force and US Army seek to consolidate and improve on a fleet acquired almost ad hoc over the last decade, a robust UAV industry packing the halls of the Denver Convention Center now look to the Navy.
The most ambitious requirements for new UAVs come from the maritime service. In the last four months, the Navy has released two requirements seeking UAV technology that currently does not exist. One is a carrier-based UAV that can survive in contested airspace (UCLASS). The second is a ship-based vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that can remain airborne for as long as three days (PSBUAS).
Further coverage on Flightglobal.com:
- US Navy moves to forefront of military UAV future
- Northrop Grumman discloses new details on Fire-X, MUVR
- US Navy wants UCLASS sooner than 2018
- Skunk Works lifts curtain on two new UAV programmes
Photo of Sea Avenger courtesy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc