The UCAV-N is envisioned as a ship-based, "first day of the war" force multiplier that will complement manned systems by building and maintaining a common operational picture; providing targeting for other weapons and weapon systems; taking lethal action against designated fixed or moving targets; and collecting and disseminating post-strike information.
The goal of the joint DARPA/Navy project is to demonstrate the technical feasibility for a naval UCAV system to effectively and affordably conduct sea-based 21st century suppression of enemy air defenses, strike, and surveillance missions within the emerging global command and control architecture.
This revolutionary new weapon system will augment future manned systems as part of an integrated, post-2010 force structure. Future naval UCAV systems will fully utilize the emerging information revolution. They will take advantage of multiple, real-time data sources and secure communication networks to plan for, and respond to, the dynamically changing battlefield. By removing the pilot from the vehicle a new standard in aircraft affordability and supportability will be achieved. Capitalizing on technical advances by UCAVs will provide the nation with increased tactical deterrence at a fraction of the costs of current manned systems.
The notional Carrier launch and recovery Configuration [UCAV-1] is a carrier takeoff and landing concept in which launch and recovery are accomplished by way of catapult and arresting hook. The propulsion systems investigated during Joint Strike Fighter and predecessor programs (JAST, ASTOVL) typify the technologies that are applicable to UCAV-1. Operations on various types of air-capable surface ships are also to be explored, including cruisers, small-deck amphibious ships and carriers. A high-low-low-high mission profile for attacking high-value fixed targets or for suppressing enemy air defenses (SEAD) with a goal of 600 nmi radius. The contractor shall select an on-board avionics suite and weapons load-out to effectively conduct the design mission. Mission performance calculations should include appropriate fuel-burn allowances for takeoff, target engagement, landing and reserve, and be based on JP-5 density and a 105% engine fuel flow factor. No time/fuel/distance credit shall be taken for mission descent legs. The capability for aerial refueling is desirable, but UCAV design mission performance shall be estimated without in-flight refueling.
On 16 June 2001 Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) received an 'X' designation for the company's Pegasus demonstration aircraft, a tailless, kite-shaped UAV. Pegasus carries the designation X-47A, and a refined Navy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) was later designated the X-47B was planned to be built under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA)-Navy UCAV-N program.
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