UCAVs gain ground in the USN

June 26, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized · 7 Comments 

61d04ed8-95f3-4252-a3e5-6f14f3104adb.LargeBill Sweetman reports that UCAVs as a concept, and NG’s X-47B in particular, are getting increasingly popular with the USN’s aviation community:

The Navy is looking at longer ranges, driven by the threat from anti-ship ballistic missiles and other weapons. "Navy aviation is run by a whole generation of Hornet people and their vista is 450 nm, and they assume that the Tomahawks will take care of the IADS [integrated air defense system]. But if the Tomahawk ships can’t get in there…"

Beard showed some new Northrop Grumman comparisons that pit the UCAV against a notional future Navy fighter (resembling a super-F-35 with a greater range). The big difference at long range is that the manned fighter can only run into the target once after hitting the tanker, because of human endurance limits. The UCAV is good for 50 hours endurance and can make four-to-six trips into the target before flying back to the carrier. 

Nice to see that Kurt Plummer’s long-standing arguments in favor of UACVs are finally being recognized :)