posted on Aug, 21 2013 @ 05:49 PM
The Navy had a great opportunity in the UCLASS to develop a new, truly stealthy, long persistence strike UAV. Instead, the Pentagon Joint
Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) and the Navy have turned the UCLASS into a jet powered Predator, with a good chance of being cancelled.
The question has been raised if the UCLASS has become a budget sacrifice item, or if these are the real requirements, and if they are, then why even
bother. The requirements have, instead of creating a potentially powerful strike system, created an non-survivable platform, that couldn't even
start to penetrate into well defended territory. It would work great in areas where defenses are non-existent, or weak, but against someone like
China, or Russia, or someone with serious, real defenses, it would last less than a few minutes.
The original proposal was for an aircraft capable of refueling in flight, to extend the range far enough from the carrier to be useful. That proposal
was removed in a classified memo sent last December. The requirement was for something that would leave the carrier out of range of new antiship
missiles, including the ballistic missile threat, while still allowing for strike by an extreme long range, ultra stealthy platform, carrying a large
In the memo sent in December, the in flight refueling was removed, it was no longer required to operate in contested airspace, and the payload was
reduced to just 1,000 pounds. So in effect it was reduced to a moderately stealthy, jet powered Predator. So basically, the JROC has unofficially
said that the Avenger will be the UCLASS, as the Avenger already meets most of those requirements.
The Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) and the US Navy must provide a more credible explanation for relaxing the
requirements for the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft programme. Its downgraded capabilities are
baffling to current and former defence officials alike, and many are questioning why the Pentagon would embark on such an endeavour that does so
little to address the fundamental challenges facing the fleet. As initially envisioned, UCLASS would have provided a credible solution to the
anti-access/area denial problems faced by the USN’s carrier strike groups in many parts of the world. The original concept called for an
ultra-stealthy, long-range unmanned bomber that could fly deep into the heart of enemy territory while simultaneously allowing the aircraft carrier to
remain at a safe distance from retaliatory strikes. Extreme range stand-off capability was considered a vital attribute of the system because enemy
anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles are posing an ever-increasing threat to carriers. Meanwhile, highly stealthy characteristics and a large
weapons payload would allow the aircraft to remain inside the toughest of enemy air defences for an extended period.