In Case You Missed It…

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend. Here’s a short roundup of a couple of articles we missed that popped up over the course of the week:

First off, DT’s buddy over at the DEW Line, Steve Trimble has two damned interesting pieces on the future of Navy’s unmanned strike jets. Check out this Star Wars-esque design for a UAV mother ship capable of carrying two smaller, combat drones. Pretty cool.

We tweeted this great snag by Trimble late last month, but I still don’t think it got enough attention; it’s the Navy’s solicitation for a legit, stealthy combat drone, dubbed the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS). Think of it as sort of a successor to the X-47 UCAS. Like I just said, the Navy wants a stealthy, carrier-launched, air-to-air refuelable jet that can carry bombs and ISR gear over fairly heavily defended targets. Oh, and the sea service wants the plane to be fielded by 2018. This means it’s likely going to be based on a UAV that’s already fairly well along in development. Trimble points out the candidates, I’ll let you read about em at The DEW Line.

Meanwhile, Defense News has a little nugget of info about the Air Force’s plans to field its newest stealth bomber in a (relatively, I mean, we’re still talking 15 years, here) short amount of time. Apparently, the service wants to use a similar acquisition process to that of the MC-12 Liberty program that saw a fleet of Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air turboprop planes quickly bought and converted into ISR planes before being rushed into the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll see if they can do the same with a very, very different type of aircraft. Although, we already know the service wants to use existing technologies to field the new bomber. So, it may just be feasible.

Oh and here’s a cool clip of the Navy’s latest test of a ship killing laser gun. Watch how the ray demolishes a pair of outboard motors.

  • anonymous


  • topgun

    where are the bloody links?

  • Max

    Well, the laser burned kind of slow, but it’s a start at least.

  • Mastro

    I’d believe a quick process when the Air Force can get tankers in less than 20 years.

  • Jeff M

    They already have drones with smaller combat drones on them, they’re called missiles. What is the point of having non-missile drones?

  • Roland

    What does it do aside from flying?

  • DhuntAUS

    i think the point of having drones is you can see the target(s) track them, and take more then one out, all with one resource, and use it again tomorow, a missle is something you need to know where the prick is first , then hope u hit him game over, Drones are multi role and reusable, and can confirm situations on the ground, and with a mother drone i would assume it could bounce the signal and increase the range of the Drones it drops ?

  • Sanem

    - on UCLASS:
    Predator C is good for numbers ($20 million unit cost), and against low risk opponents (limited air defences, routine work)
    X-47b ($50 million unit cost) with its excellent stealth and heavier load will be used for first day strikes and other high risk missions. eventually they’ll carry AMRAAMs and such, providing cover for the Predator Cs
    they’re not really competitors, they’re complementary. although I still think the Navy should have gone for prop-engine Predator, the efficiency of such systems is game changing

    - on NGB: big bombers are a thing of the past. they’re either too expensive (B-1, B-2) or overqualified (used against third or second-rate countries). UCAVs offer stealth and excellent range at a relatively low cost which, combined with precision ammunition, making for a much more efficient platform for most bomber mission
    the USAF would be better off buying large numbers of UCAVs, together with the Navy and other Air Forces. this would make the unit price drop even further

  • Dfens

    Sure, it’s all about the requirements. That’s what really matters. What was I thinking focusing on the money and profit incentives? But that was all before my time in the “camp”. I now understand the error of my former capitalist ways.

    • Brian

      What the hell are you babbling about? Apparently the favored method of argument on this site is to post some crackpot idea and then have a psychotic episode. Take your meds, man.

  • William C.

    Here is hoping to a USAF with new bombers and USN carriers with full complements of F-35Cs, F/A-XX, and UCLASS drones.

  • Guest

    That’s basically one of the major issues that happened to the VH-71 program.

  • Dfens

    Clearly, they won’t put anything on a Navy ship until it has undergone 3 or 4 decades and billions upon billions of dollars worth of development. Then they use it to light a friggen pirate skiff on fire? Yeah, that makes it all worth while. Can their laser roast marshmellos too? That would be useful. Thank God the contractor will make a profit on every single day they drag out the development of that crappy laser.

    • William C.

      Setting a boat on fire makes more sense as a starting point rather than already trying to shoot down missiles and aircraft with the thing.

  • MadMike

    I really have reservations about drone aircraft from the get-go. Two American service personnel were killed today in southern Afghanistan in what is believed to be a friendly-fire drone attack. Pakistan has gone totally ballistic over civilian casualties suffered from drones. Maybe it’s impossible to distinguish a wedding party from a Taliban summit meeting from a bunker in Cheyenne Mountain, Wyo.? I think it poses an even greater moral paradox as well. Maybe we should take a long, hard look at how we project our military power, now and in the future, because right now, we’re not making many friends with our push-button wars.

  • Benjamin Peterson

    This blog is a joke; a shell of what it used to be. Where did Noah go?

  • William C.

    Dfens, the problem isn’t that the contractors are screwing up on purpose, rather the entire system works in a way that favors contractors making unrealistic bids. Plus the industry as a whole tends to seriously underestimate the challenges of software development.

    When problems inevitably arise, they are dealt with horribly inefficiently due to various reasons.

  • Guest

    No one here ever said companies aren’t trying to make a profit. These are just examples of why things are delayed, ok? Relax man…