House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces issued their mark on the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, “which designates essential funding and sets priorities for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force,” read a statement from subcommittee chair Rep. Randy Forbes (R- Va.) and ranking member Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) on Tuesday.
“Having recently received a 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan from the Navy with no basis in reality, our mark requires a detailed roadmap for how the service will reach its shipbuilding goals under likely budget scenarios,” Chairman Forbes said. “We have laid the groundwork to ask difficult questions of the Navy about the cost overruns on the Ford-class aircraft carrier, while also ensuring the Navy has an additional Virginia-class attack submarine each year. And we have made investments in technologies like the UCLASS carrier-launched unmanned vehicle, which will ensure the viability of the Carrier Air Wing for decades to come,” Forbes said in the statement. Read More →
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator conducts a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). US Navy Photo
Less than a week after its historic launch off the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the Navy’s X-47B demonstration aircraft performed a so-called “touch and go,” landing off the carrier on Friday, Navy officials told USNI News.
The 44,567 pound X-47B hit Bush’s deck and then powered off the end of the carrier. The operation at sea is one step closer for the ultimate goal of the Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) — landing on a moving carrier. Read More →
The U.S. Navy ushered in a new era in aviation with Tuesday’s launch of the first autonomous jet from an aircraft carrier.
The angular X-47B flew from deck of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) launched from the same steam catapult that’s pushed manned fighters into the sky for decades — but without a cockpit or a pilot. Read More →
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B is loaded Monday onboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) for a planned May, 14 2013 catapult launch. US Navy Photo
Next week the Navy will launch its experimental fixed winged unmanned aerial vehicle on its first flight from an aircraft carrier, Naval Air System Command officials told USNI News on Tuesday.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) is planned to be launched from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) on May, 14, several sources told USNI News. Read More →
Report author Christof Heyns, a human rights professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, mentioned the Phalanx and the Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) X-47B as examples of weapon systems with at least some degree of autonomous operation. Read More →
What should the carrier air wing of the future look like? The topic has taken on new significance as a consequence of an article in the July issue of Proceedings by the Chief of Naval Operations ADM Jonathan Greenert. The title of the article, “Payloads over Platforms: Charting a New Course,” its discussion of the diminishing value of stealth, and the positive mentions of both the F/A-18 Hornet and unmanned systems such as the Scan Eagle and Fire Scout led some observers to accuse the CNO of being secretly opposed to the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In response, ADM Greenert and his staff have stressed that the article did not refer in any way to the F-35, but instead to stealth in the future.
The F-35 noncontroversy aside, Greenert made a profound statement that could have dramatic implications for the character of U.S. air power, in general, and the future carrier air wing, in particular. The CNO declared “we need to move from ‘luxury-car’ platforms—with their built-in capabilities—toward dependable ‘trucks’ that can handle a changing payload selection.” Why? Well, by definition “luxury car” platforms are expensive. A payload-centric approach allows for more rapid technological refresh at lower cost as well as the ability to tailor forces for the conflict du jour.
One conclusion to be drawn from the CNO’s assertion that the Navy needs to move toward “dependable trucks” is that the value of the performance characteristics associated with so-called “luxury car” platforms is declining Those characteristics include stealthiness, speed, maneuverability, perhaps even survivability. There are those who argue that the combination of advanced sensors, data fusion, high-performance missiles and directed-energy weapons will bring the era of manned fighters and penetrating bombers to an end. It is by no means certain that the U.S. aerospace industry will be able to design an affordable sixth generation manned aircraft with the combination of range, persistence, stealth, ISR, and payload required to operate in such an intensely hostile environment.