Already testing their Unmanned Air Combat Vehicle (UCAV), the X-47B the US Navy is now seeking a new class of naval UAS.
The Naval Air Systems Command seeks proposals which conceptually demonstrate that a UCLASS system can provide a persistent Carrier Vessel-Nuclear (CVN) based Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capability supporting carrier air wing operations in the 2018 timeframe.
In order to identify and explore available trade space, proposals must have a strong emphasis on an open, adaptive architecture and disciplined systems engineering. The program anticipates leveraging existing, deployed Department of Defense (DoD) systems to launch, recover, and control the air vehicle, transfer data in support of time critical strike operations, and conduct persistence ISR operations. The ongoing Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstration program will inform UCLASS development and provide technology risk reduction for Unmanned Aircraft (UA) integration into carrier environments.
The UCLASS system will enhance carrier capability, capacity, and versatility for the Joint Force Commander through integration of persistent and mission flexible UA into the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) by the 2018 timeframe. UCLASS will provide a UA capable of persistent surveillance with precision strike. It will be a major step forward toward achieving operation and integration of manned with unmanned systems within the CVW and will contribute to increasing sea-based capacity across the spectrum of maritime and littoral missions.
It will be assigned as part of the CVW and will beresponsive to tasking from the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander. A UCLASS detachment may operate independently or as part of an existing unit based upon future analysis of operating concepts.
The system will be sustainable onboard the carrier, maintained by fleet Sailors, and it should minimize increases in the logistics footprint of the current CVW.
The UCLASS system will be jointly interoperable at Levels 1-4 in accordance with STANAG 4586 and capable of transferring control of the aircraft, sensors, and weapons between operators at DoD sea and land-based facilities. The system will utilize secure, jam-resistant Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications to transfer information and to receive control instructions. It should contain appropriatelybalanced measures to ensure survivability in the intended operational environments.