Sunday, October 18, 2015

Expert: Navy might need two unmanned carrier jets

Expert: Navy might need two unmanned carrier jets: The Navy is still deciding what it needs from its first operational unmanned carrier jet — surveillance or strike weapons, or a mix of each.

The name of the program suggests a hybrid strike-surveillance aircraft, but one expert says they'd be better served with two carrier-launched airframes.

The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Aerial Strike and Surveillance program proposes one jet to do both jobs, but ongoing argument between the Navy and Congress has delayed its request for proposals: Some lawmakers want Naval Air Systems Command to focus on strike capabilities, but the Navy wants to maintain an emphasis on a long-range surveillance platform.

"The problem is, if you try to stuff both missions into one airframe, you end up sacrificing one," former destroyer skipper retired Cmdr. Bryan McGrath told Navy Times. "We need both strike and surveillance, and we probably need them in two separate aircraft."