Senate Panel Wants Pentagon to Craft ‘Stable Requirements’ for UCLASS

July 17, 2014 4:51 PM
Artist's conception of a Northrop Grumman X-47B.
Artist’s conception of a Northrop Grumman X-47B.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense (SAC-D) supports the U.S. Navy request for $403 million to continue the development of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft — with conditions.
The committee is mandating that the service get the approval of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council approval before releasing a final request for proposal, according to a copy of the committee’s mark obtained by USNI News.

“The Committee is concerned that the Navy is proceeding with UCLASS development prior to the formal establishment of stable requirements,” reads the SAC-D mark.
“For example, earlier this year, the Navy issued a second draft request for proposals for the air segment, which included changes to the key performance parameters from the original draft.”

The SAC-D language states that industry teams were forced to “significantly change their air vehicle designs” to meet the new requirements.

“This could have been avoided if the UCLASS requirements had been formally established through a Joint Requirements Oversight Council approved capability development document (CDD] prior to issuing a draft request for proposal,” the bill reads. “The Committee is concerned that the Navy is avoiding basic acquisition practices at the outset of a very large development program.”

As such, the SAC-D is mandating that the Navy get a formal approval for the UCLASS requirements from JROC before moving forward with the program.

The SAC-D move follows a House Armed Services Committee restriction of the requested funds as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act restricts a planned $403 million in UCLASS funding.

Until now, the Senate has been largely silent on the controversial UCLASS program.

Dave Majumdar

Dave Majumdar

Dave Majumdar has been covering defense since 2004. He has written for Flight International, Defense News and C4ISR Journal. Majumdar studied Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and is a student of naval history.

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