The US Navy is in the initial stages of developing a requirement for a warship-based, medium-altitude, multi-role endurance (MRE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

An analysis of alternatives study is to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2001 and will define the number of UAV systems to be acquired.

Studies will establish whether the UAV will be fixed wing or a vertical take-off and landing design. The Program Executive Office for Cruise Missiles and Joint UAVs plans to award multiple risk assessment contracts - to be completed by 1 February next year - to systems integrators and UAV manufacturers. Bids are due by 1 March with contracts to be awarded a month later.

Risk assessments are "to determine the basic viability of a UAV solution, the most effective configuration, and the naval basing strategy of the system", says the US Department of Defense.

According to the Pentagon, the MRE is potentially an organic, sea-based UAV, possibly operating from aircraft carriers, amphibious warships, cruisers, destroyers and frigates. It will be capable of a range of missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and suppression of enemy air defences.

Source: Flight International