US Navy drone project pushed out to at least 2022

5 Feb 2015

The Northrop Grumman X-47B drone currently in development with the US Navy. Image via Wikimedia Commons

As if they needed any more drones, the US Navy’s project to develop its latest reconnaissance/attack drone has hit a stumbling block delaying its launch until at least 2022.

The project is part of an open competition that the navy is undertaking known as the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance Strike (UCLASS) programme which began in autumn of last year.

The aim of UCLASS is to make a one-fits-all craft capable of replacing many of the current manned-aircraft that conduct the same operations as this potential new drone will operate under.

However, the project has had a major set-back because the US Defence Department over what they are describing as ‘affordability concerns’ or – to you and me – it being far too expensive to run, according to Reuters.

So far, some of the US’s largest aircraft manufacturers have thrown their hat into the ring to try and win what is no-doubt a lucrative contract, with Northrop Grumman leading the way having previously developed its X-47B drone craft that has already been tested on some of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers.

The competition to see who will win the contract has now been pushed out to at least the beginning of the fiscal year 2016, according to Rear Admiral William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the US Navy for budget.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic