The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Navy today awarded two agreements for the first phase of the Naval Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) Advanced Technology Program (ATP). Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing will each receive $2 million for the initial 15-month trade study, analyses, and preliminary design phase.
The goal of the joint DARPA/Navy project is to demonstrate the technical feasibility for a naval UCAV system to effectively and affordably conduct sea-based 21st century suppression of enemy air defenses, strike, and surveillance missions within the emerging global command and control architecture. At the conclusion of the 15-month preliminary design phase, DoD will decide whether to proceed with the second phase. DoD would select one or both contractors for the second phase to complete the development and demonstration of critical naval UCAV system technologies.
The UCAV-N ATP is the next step towards a revolutionary new weapon system that will augment future manned systems as part of an integrated, post-2010 force structure. Future naval UCAV systems will fully utilize the emerging information revolution. They will take advantage of multiple, real-time data sources and secure communication networks to plan for, and respond to, the dynamically changing battlefield. By removing the pilot from the vehicle a new standard in aircraft affordability and supportability will be achieved. Capitalizing on technical advances by UCAVs will provide the nation with increased tactical deterrence at a fraction of the costs of current manned systems.
The Naval UCAV ATP takes advantage of the work that continues to be performed under the DARPA/Air Force UCAV Advanced Technology Demonstration Program. However, the Naval UCAV ATP adds surveillance to the mission set, and will include a significant focus on issues of Naval shipboard integration.