UCAS—Navy Style:

The Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a six-year, $635.8 million contract to conduct the first at-sea carrier launches and recoveries using a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle, the X-47B. The program now known as Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstration is the remaining element of the Joint-UCAS program, after the Quadrennial Defense Review directed USAF to put its money and possibly some technology into a long-range strike platform. The Navy contract calls for two vehicles, the first of which is slated to fly in late 2009, followed by actual carrier work in late 2011. Northrop also is working with the Navy on its version of the Global Hawk UAV, the RQ-4N, under the sea service’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. For BAMS, the company has provided Navy-specific sensors and ground stations. Northrop still is working to meet the Navy’s “due regard” requirement, that is the ability to avoid other aircraft when outside controlled airspace.