Home » Budget Industry » WEST: Bob Work Says UCLASS Development Needs a ‘Joint Perspective’


WEST: Bob Work Says UCLASS Development Needs a ‘Joint Perspective’

An artist's concept of a proposed Lockheed Martin UCLASS design. Lockheed Martin Image

An artist’s concept of a proposed Lockheed Martin UCLASS design. Lockheed Martin Image

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – The first operational unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to be used on the Navy’s aircraft carriers needs to be developed with a “joint perspective,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said during a Keynote speech at WEST 2015 on Tuesday.

He said that perspective necessitated the pause in the release of the request (RFP) for proposal for the air segment of the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) – or RAQ-25 as USNI News understands it’s known inside the service.

“We decided this year we were almost ready to launch the RFP but we decided to take a pause because we want to consider the UCLASS as part of the joint family of unmanned surveillance and strike systems and make sure that we’re going after the right capabilities,” Work said.
“In addition to looking at capabilities that we already have and using them differently, we’re going to make sure in this environment, that when we go after a new platform, it’s the platform that we need from a joint perspective.”

The pause is the direct result of an ongoing comprehensive information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) UAV review of the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Navy said last week.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has pitched UCLASS as an UAV that would operate during the downtime of a carrier air wing as a lightly armed and high endurance aircraft focused primarily on ISR for the carrier strike group (CSG).

A previous concept called for a low observable and heavily armed aircraft capable of penetrating enemy air defense networks with a payload equivalent to a F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.

As to what capabilities a joint perspective would bring to UCLASS capabilities are unclear. Critics outside the service of the last discussed UCLASS concept have said the ISR capabilities of the Navy’s version of UCLASS would be redundant to capabilities of other ISR platforms coming online like the Boeing P-8A Poseidon and the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton high altitude UAV.

Meanwhile, the service said it plans to issue the air segment RFP sometime next year. It’s too early to say if the RFP will be an open competition or issued directly to companies that have done previous UCLASS development work – General Atomics, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

As a result of the pause, the service said it would push the initial operating date for UCLASS from 2020 to 2022 or 2023.

  • sferrin

    “Bob Work Says UCLASS Development Needs a ‘Joint Perspective’”

    Because it worked so well last time?

  • 2IDSGT

    Any IOC goal less than 15 years from now is laughable unless they scale the program’s ambition waaaaaay back from full-on TACAIR.

    • James Hasik

      This is why I prefer the less technically ambitious vision for the RAQ-25. With a simpler airplane, the Navy will have time to master operations and tactics, before moving onto a more sophisticated version. The whole business reminds me of the dive- and torpedo-bombers of the 1930s. The aircraft then weren’t as technically impressive as those of the 1940s, and they tended to get torn up in the first battles. But having them available gave the US and Royal Navies valuable experience that they needed later against the Germans and the Japanese.

  • AKO

    Bureaucracy is a hotbed of bribery and corruption.

    • James Hasik

      No, no—use Occam’s Razor. There are plenty of good reasons that big, governmental organizations fall short of expectations that don’t require claims that money is changing hands.

  • The_Usual_Suspect61

    This from the guy who thinks that the LCS is a success story? He probably loves the F-35, too. I am sure that his heart is in the right place and that his intentions are good, but the history of “jointness” is replete with failures, cost overruns, and projects that are way behind schedule. Bob Work should know better.

    • NINJACAT

      if you all mouthing off on here can do a better job with procuring, designing and developing brand new weapons platforms from the ground up then don’t just talk the talk WALK THE WALK I bet you would think differently when you realize that there is much more involved than riveting a few pieces of material together… IDIOTS!!!

  • Taxpayer71

    Bob Work is quoted in the USNI News as saying: “In addition to looking at capabilities that we already have and using them differently, we’re going to make sure in this
    environment, that when we go after a new platform, it’s the platform that we
    need from a joint perspective.” This quote does not suggest that UCLASS should be a joint service program such as the Joint Strike Fighter. It does indicate that in this tight/uncertain fiscal environment DoD needs to be sure any new start such as UCLASS is needed in the context of the overall joint force mix of service platforms and systems required to support the national security strategy — a very reasonable proposition applicable to all programs.

  • vincedc

    Typical DoD. Make everything purple. The result is one size that doesn’t fit anything.