The US Navy has skipped a mid-December deadline to join a supposedly joint effort with the US Army to develop the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) aircraft.

The army alone launched the programme early last August, awarding a contract to a Lockheed Martin team based on the Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet for 38 aircraft. The navy has committed to buy another 19 jets to replace its ageing Lockheed Martin EP-3 Aries IIs, but has yet to assign funds or other resources to the development effort.

That was meant to change in mid-December with the planned completion of an integrated programme review that would have cleared the programme to start development work.

Instead, the navy at first delayed completing its part of the review until January and now has postponed the process even further, says an industry source. The delays are not expected to threaten the overall development schedule, and the navy has not dropped its commitment to the programme.

The first aircraft delivered to the army and navy are expected to be almost identical, allowing greater flexibility in the early part of the development schedule, the industry source says.

Source: Flight International