UAS that Navy boss thinks is ‘moving too slow’ gets slower

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has postponed a key event in the evolution of the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) program. A second industry day planned by year-end will occur sometime next year while the navy continues to “refine” requirements and acquisition strategy. The delay comes after Adm Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, made it extremely clear that UCLASS is already “moving too slow” and the navy must have a “sense of urgency” about deploying a carrier-based, unmanned bomber. See my video below from Roughead’s question-and-answer at the AUVSI convention in August.

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3 Responses to UAS that Navy boss thinks is ‘moving too slow’ gets slower

  1. ArkadyRenko 10 December, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Oh the military, when will they learn that meetings =! progress?

    At a certain point, its better to just get some requirements out there than to try and get the perfect airplane from the get-go. The Navy’s first generation UCLASS will not be a very capable airplane, because the technology will be brand new and the military hasn’t fully expanded the UAV envelope. Recognizing the limitations, the Navy should allow for the UCLASS program to be more of a beginning variant; make the goals to build and operate a long range UAV from the carrier flight deck, everything else is secondary.

    Actually, were I running the program, I would tell Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed, their goal is to make their current jet powered semi-stealthy or stealthy UAVs operate from a carrier deck. That’s the greatest hurdle for the Navy. Don’t focus on what the UAV’s could do from the flight deck, focus on getting them onto the flight deck first.

  2. Dave 10 December, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    I don’t know how Roughead could expect any different… the underlying technology hasn’t been proven yet. The X-47B still hasn’t demonstrated that it can land on or catapult from a carrier or aerial refuel with either the drogue and probe or the boom system. Hell, it hasn’t even flown. The very concept of operating a fixed wing catapult launch/ arrested recovery unmanned aircraft at sea under operational conditions has yet to be proven. Granted, of course, is the fact that to a large extent the UCLASS is supposed to be the platform that demonstrates those operational qualities at sea. However, until the X-47 program gets its act together and at least demonstrates that the unmanned hands-off carrier launch and recovery concept is feasible, the UCLASS is going nowhere since it build on that program’s achievements or lack thereof.

  3. onederboy 11 December, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    I suspect the RFP delay is driven more by organization (or lack thereof) and PowerPoint than technology. Sad we forget the SR-71 and what can be done with a Cando attitude.

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