Mark Collins - Little Surprise Headline of the Day, US Intelligence on Asia Section Mark Collins - The Changing Face of England and Wales
Dec 12

Further to Comment 1. here (and Comment 5.).

More on another front (UCAV [unmanned combat aerial vehicle]) the USN is pursuing that may impinge on its need for the F-35C…

the latest from Flightglobal:

US Navy delays UCLASS RFP

The US Navy has delayed a request for proposals (RFP) for its unmanned carrier-launched surveillance and strike (UCLASS) aircraft programme until next year.

“We are looking at the early part of 2013 now,” the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) says. A draft RFP is now likely to be released between January and March, possibly due to difficulties in finalizing the requirements for the new programme. Previously, the RFP was scheduled to be released this month…

USN budget documents indicate that the service hopes to have the new aircraft in limited operational service by 2020. According to USN officials, that means that a small squadron of perhaps a half-dozen UCLASS aircraft would be ready to train onboard ship with a carrier air wing by that date. However, the unit would not deploy with the carrier during its cruise. “It clearly is an ambitious schedule,” says Phil Finnegan, an analyst with the Virginia-based Teal Group. “It’s already slipped by a couple of years and is very likely to slip some more.”

For industry, the UCLASS programme is extremely important, Finnegan says. The USN effort is one of the few large-scale new start developmental programmes for the foreseeable future. As such, for many of the potential contractors, the UCLASS is a “must win,” Finnegan says.

Northrop Grumman is expected to pitch a derivative of the X-47B unmanned combat aircraft system demonstrator (UCAS-D) for the UCLASS programme. Lockheed Martin is hoping to offer an aircraft called the Sea Ghost. General Atomics is expected to offer a derivative of its Predator-C Avenger. Boeing is likely to bid a new design that draws upon lessons learned from its X-45C Phantom Ray.

More (with a video too of General Atomics’ Sea Avenger):

...The incumbent is Northrop Grumman with its X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft System Demonstrator–the design of which will be modified into an actual combat aircraft and not just a demonstrator. But earlier in the year, Naval Air Systems Command said that it would make the government-owned technology from the program available to all of the UCLASS contenders…

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

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