If Stephen Trimble of Flight Global magazine is correct, the Air Force and Navy are about to reunite over the unmanned combat air vehicle. Trimble reported Tuesday at his DEW Line blog that the Air Force and Navy are discussing adding some USAF participation to the sea service’s ongoing UCAV demonstration that is built around Northrop Grumman’s X-47B air vehicle. The reason, Navy Capt Martin Deppe, UCAS-D program manager, told Trimble, is so that “they can better understand what we’re doing” and “in return, we can understand what the Air Force is doing.” Deppe added, “I think that’s going to be the beginning of a nice partnering relationship.” If you remember, the Air Force was pursuing the X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle, while the Navy was pursuing its own UCAV-N program. The Office of the Secretary of Defense then brought them together under the DARPA-led joint unmanned combat air systems program. But OSD then took USAF out of the J-UCAS picture, ceding it in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review to the Navy alone. The Air Force continued to pursue some of its J-UCAS-related technologies.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.