The US Navy has released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for its unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) programme, the service announces in a media statement.
The RFP was released to the four prime contractors permitted to bid on the programme, which calls for development of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of operating from USN aircraft carriers.
Those contractors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman — are currently contracted to conduct preliminary design reviews for the project.
Northrop Grumman's X-47B UCLASS prototype operated from Navy aircraft carriers in 2013.
Industry members have been awaiting the RFP, which they expect will layout the Navy’s requirements for the projects.
Those requirements have reportedly been in flux, with industry members saying the US military has waffled on factors such as the aircraft’s desired level of stealth, its ability to survive in contested airspace and its inflight refueling ability.
The USN’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which still must be approved by Congress, would inject $403 million into UCLASS for fiscal year 2015, three times more than the $122 million allotted to the project in the current fiscal year.
The service plans to spend $2.67 billion through fiscal year 2019 on UCLASS development, according to budget documents.