Lockheed Martin has revealed a new concept it calls the Sea Ghost that it will propose for the US Navy's forthcoming unmanned carrier-launched surveillance and strike (UCLASS) aircraft requirement.
The company says the design "leverages its experience with the RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aircraft system, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter and other Navy program technologies."
Lockheed adds that those previous experiences allow it to provide the USN "with a versatile and supportable carrier-based unmanned aircraft solution with capability growth margins to meet future threat scenario requirements."
The key features of the Sea Ghost are that it will be a carrier-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision strike aircraft. That puts the aircraft in line with the USN's known UCLASS requirements.
The USN envisions the UCLASS to be a stealthy carrier-based unmanned aircraft that would provide persistent ISR collection combined with a light strike capability. Navy officials say that the aircraft will be built using a spiral concept, where the service will not field everything it wants in one step. Instead, the navy will require the aircraft to be incrementally upgraded with better stealth, sensors and weapons as technology and funding becomes available.
The US Air Force will also base its next-generation unmanned aircraft on the USN's UCLASS initial capabilities documents. The service has already stationed a procurement officer with the USN to that end.
A single picture was published with the concept, but airframe details are largely indiscernible. Mention of the aircraft is made on the briefing schedule for AUVSI, a major UAV industry gathering, on 7 August.