Our homies (that's right, we're street-wise) at NAVAIR just forwarded us this press release:
NAVAIR Patuxent River, MD -- The Department of Navy announced today that Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Integrated Systems Western Region, San Diego, Calif., has been selected to provide the Navy Unmanned Combat Air Systems Technical Demonstration.This $635.8 Million Cost Plus Incentive Fee contract will launch a technical effort to demonstrate the aircraft carrier suitability of an autonomous low-observable unmanned air vehicle, as well as demonstrate critical aircraft carrier suitability technologies in a relevant environment.
Todays announcement is a significant milestone towards understanding and mastering autonomous and low-observable flight in the maritime environment, said Dr. Delores Etter, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. The determined effort, long hours and hard work by both the Government team and our industry partner will build on the knowledge gained in previous joint unmanned combat system efforts and help us launch follow-on developmental efforts in the future.
Specifically, the effort, which is scheduled to conclude in 2013, will involve shipboard operation, including catapult takeoffs, arrested landings and flight in the immediate vicinity of an aircraft carrier. The air vehicle will not carry weapons.
This specific contract is for technology development and demonstration and will not be an operational system explained Navy Capt. Rich Brasel, program manager for NAVAIRs technology demonstration effort here. But through it, we will develop knowledge, skills and technologies specific to operating an autonomous low-observable unmanned air vehicle in an aircraft carrier environment. This is a critical step in efforts to develop future Naval Aviation combat capabilities.
Specific products of the effort, referred to as UCAS-D, are expected to include flight test data, test reports, trade studies, simulation, and detailed engineering analyses to enable future developmental efforts, according to Brasel.
The contractor-provided system will be comprised of two unmanned, low-observable air vehicles, two mission control segments, and a support segment. The system will be capable of autonomous launch, recovery and operations in the Carrier Control Area.
Flight testing is scheduled to begin in late 2009 and culminate with carrier flight operations in 2013.
(Photo - The X-47's maiden flight)