Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Navy UAV Plans: Adjustments

UAV Blog posts that U.S. Navy May Adjust UAV Plans. Admiral Clark, the Chief of Naval Operations wants the Navy to
One of the thrusts among the objectives Clark spells out is a move to expand from a focus on reconnaissance to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, suggesting the need for a more far-reaching data-collection mechanism.

UAV Blog cites an article from Aviation Week & Space Technology containing this:
Among the steps the service wants to take is the development of requirements to provide the future Navy destroyer, DD(X), with an independent targeting capability that would include use of a destroyer-based unmanned aircraft.

The service has been working with Northrop Grumman on the Fire Scout unmanned aircraft to explore ship-based vertical takeoff and landing UAV operations, although at-sea trials using the Navy's experimental high-speed vessel have been delayed because the ship has been diverted to support relief operations in Southwest Asia. The Navy and, in particular, the Marine Corps, have signaled they want a VTOL UAV, but one more capable than Fire Scout.

Additionally, Clark wants the service and special operations forces to standardize their tactical UAV candidates, rather than pursue dissimilar systems. Another area of UAV collaboration between the two parties would occur in the Silent Hammer exercise series involving submarines aiding special forces ashore. The first Silent Hammer drill took place last year, with submarine control of a long-endurance UAV providing special forces on land with overhead imagery. Clark wants a repeat of that drill to refine operational concepts between the sub and elite troops.

The anticipated adjustments in UAV plans represent only one in the latest of a long-running series of Navy reviews of its unmanned aircraft activity, which has led to turmoil affecting tactical, endurance and unmanned combat aircraft programs. But Clark also says he wants the service to field new unmanned systems more rapidly; a directive that would cover unmanned systems beyond aircraft.

Northrop Grumman Fire Scout info here. Fire Scout (Northrop Grumman photo)

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