Navy wants carrier-based robot planes

The U.S. Navy is accepting proposals for stealthy unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS) vehicles that can demonstrate a capability to operate from carriers.

The technology, if eventually embraced and purchased, could alter how carrier aviation is employed by extending the reach of U.S. surveillance and enabling strikes on remote locations without relying on nearby land bases.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman have been dusting off their earlier X-45 and X-47 designs for the Navy’s recent request for proposals (RFP) on the UCAS-D (demonstrator) program.

The RFP involves a specific set of requirements for carrier operations, including catapult launch, arrested landing and deck handling. Both manufacturers prepared more advanced vehicles for earlier demonstration projects, and both are expected to submit proposals that exceed the Navy’s immediate needs with UCAS-D, according to a Pentagon official.

More info:  Aviation Week article

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