The U.S. Navy has awarded $60 million in contracts to four companies for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike Air Vehicle development program, Defense News reported Wednesday.
Christopher Cavas writes that Boeing (NYSE: BA), General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) received $15 million each to help the Navy in the program’s preliminary design review phase.
The Navy intends for the review assessment to help design design a responsive, sea-based unmanned aerial system or air wing, Cavas reports.
The Navy also wants the UAV to be jet-powered, carry out ISR missions (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and conduct strikes at ranges up to 2, 000 miles.
Basic technology for the new UAV has been tested on Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, according to the report.
Cavas reports the Naval Air Systems Command expects to begin the final airframe design for the UCLASS by January next year and operational by 2020.
NAVAIR has also cancelled the retirement of the X-47B system to focus on the potential of UCLASS air vehicles.