Navy going for large scale attack drones
The Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system is just what it sounds like: “Top Gun” for drones.This si a step in the right direction. The large attack drones can be effectively used a great distance from the carriers allowing them to lurk out of range of enemy carrier killer missiles.
The U.S. Navy issued a “restricted” draft request for proposals for the carrier-based drone on April 17 and has already narrowed down the field of companies vying for chance to work on the project.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics and Northrop Grumman have been involved in the project in some capacity, technology website Ars Technicareported Tuesday.
While the Navy seems to have wrestled with what exactly its new drones will be capable of, members of Congress want UCLASS aircraft that could essentially provide the strike capability possessed by humans.
“We’re talking Tomcat size [drones],” the Navy’s director of air warfare, Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, told the U.S. Naval Institute News of the new vision, Ars Technica reported. “We have heavy-end ISR and strike capability with some growth in the ability to carry weapons and some growth in the sensor package. … They’re big, heavy, capable airplanes that will fly for 14 hours, that can give away gas” (refuel other planes), Ars Technica reported.
To put the size dimensions in perspective, UCLASS will feature drones that will be 70,000 and 80,000 pounds, which is twice the size of the Navy’s X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), Ars Technica said.