Boeing and Lockheed Martin aren’t the only US manufacturers with interesting new programs, Northrop Grumman has a few as well. Perhaps the most interesting is the X-47B flying as part of the UCAS-D, or Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration, program. The X-47B is a follow-on to the earlier, and smaller, X-47A which was produced as part of DARPA’s now defunct J-UCAS program. J-UCAS also featured Boeing’s X-45A, which is the ancestor to the company-funded Phantom Ray of today – based on the planned X-45C design.
Anyway, the UCAS program, as the name implies, is intended to develop the technologies necessary for carrier-based unmanned combat air vehicles. The program is still in its early stages, but they’re working toward testing such things as unmanned aerial refueling and unmanned carrier launches and arrested landings. It is quite an ambitious effort, really.
This past week also saw the official unveiling of the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton BAMS UAS, or Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System. The MQ-4C Triton is a specialized version of the MQ-4 Global Hawk intended, as the name states, for surveillance of large areas of the sea. The envisioned use is pairing MQ-4Cs with the new P-8A Poseidon.