- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

US Admiral Frustrated Over Delay in Drone Fleet for Aircraft Carriers

© Flickr / Official U.S. Navy PageAn X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. - Sputnik International
Admiral Michael Manazir, the director of air warfare for the US Navy, stated on Wednesday that he is frustrated by the delay in a plan to build a fleet of drones on board aircraft carriers.

The Navy planned to begin soliciting bids for the project, called the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UCLASS), last year.  The effort was delayed until 2016 due to questions over whether or not the drones would be stealthy enough to conduct both surveillance and strike missions.

US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile - Sputnik International
Obama Should Hand Back Peace Prize as Civilians Killed by US Drones

Manazir stated that he is not sure when the Navy will begin to solicit bids on the project from outside companies.

“The UCLASS RfP has been ready to release now for over a year, we should have it on the street. We have lost this time to put that technology to work. That’s where my frustration is,” Manazir stated.

Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Northrop Grumman have already received contracts valued at $15 million for preliminary design review.

Northrop Grumman built the experimental X-47B, the first unmanned system to both take off and land on an aircraft carrier, in 2013.  Manazir said that they are also considering adding more funding to that program.

Testing of LOCUST launcher and UAV - Sputnik International
Navy to Launch Autonomous, Swarming Drones (VIDEO)

“We’re doing a business case analysis right now about if you put more funding in the X-47B, whether you can get any more out of the original design,” he stated. “We continue to fund the other elements of this besides the air system itself, so we’re still able to advance the technology that will allow us to operate unmanned systems from our carriers and also from the carrier strike group.”

The event Manazir spoke at was organized by an advocacy group called the Navy League of the United States, based in Arlington, Virginia.  The event was aimed at highlighting funding shortcomings with the fleet, despite having a base budget higher than any other branch.

“If you look at it in comparison to other services, the Navy is in good shape,” Manazir stated. “It’s more about how much money the Navy should be getting relative to the demands being placed on the service.”

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала