US Navy’s UCLASS / CBARS / MQ-XX / MQ-25 Stingray Program

sferrin

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Moose said:
And while NG has a history of avoiding fixed-price contracts that is probably worth some criticism,
Why would you criticize a company for making a smart move?
 

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Moose said:
Airplane said:
Whenever one of the suppliers we work with voluntarily drops out of a competition for business, its always been a case of they had something else more important or lucrative they are working on to consider devoting manpower or plant space to another project.

That could be the case with NG and black projects. Maybe they are spread thin with things we don't know about.

Companies exist to make money, first and foremost. I don't think a company like NG is just cherry picking what they feel like working on.
There's absolutely something NG is working in: Raider. And while NG has a history of avoiding fixed-price contracts that is probably worth some criticism, in this case it's probably a smart move not to assume extra risk for MQ-25 whime making Raider happen.
If Raider consumes all of their engineering resources, then they are in piss poor health as remaining viable. One single platform should not ever take up all of the resources of a company like NG. Gee, let's suppose Raider gets capped 30 to 40 airframes. Northrop is f***ed because they gave away T-X and the Navy drone. And then what, they wait to roll the dice on PCA and hope for a win?
 

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It's hard to maintain design teams when you're building a bomber every thirty years.
 

sferrin

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AeroFranz said:
It's hard to maintain design teams when you're building a bomber every thirty years.
The story of almost the entire industry. :( I've run into so many people where I work who formally worked on things like the Shuttle, Midgetman, ducted rockets / ramjets, B-2, B-1B, etc. etc., and been laid off due to lack of programs, that it's damn depressing. All that tribal knowledge / experience off doing something completely unrelated.
 

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sferrin said:
AeroFranz said:
It's hard to maintain design teams when you're building a bomber every thirty years.
The story of almost the entire industry. :( I've run into so many people where I work who formally worked on things like the Shuttle, Midgetman, ducted rockets / ramjets, B-2, B-1B, etc. etc., and been laid off due to lack of programs, that it's damn depressing. All that tribal knowledge / experience off doing something completely unrelated.
Endemic of the entire aerospace sector. I don’t think Boeing could design a military aircraft (fixed or rotor) out of their own staff. They just buy the staffs when they need them then slowly attrite them away. It is disheartening to see the USN getting as bad as the Army at procurement. Air Force appears to be confused about it as well. Only USMC seems to have retained a clue at the byzantine process as they continue to acquire new aircraft at a “normal”, albeit smaller rate.
Industrial age acquisition is looking to be a house of cards I think. Interestingly I note in the rotorcraft sector small design teams (Karem and AVX) involved in major efforts who are potentially courted by the larger aerospace groups to do initial design efforts. If the government bits, then they acquire the rights, without the overhead of maintaining a design team. I wonder if this sort of thing is a harbinger of information age acquisition.
 

sferrin

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yasotay said:
sferrin said:
AeroFranz said:
It's hard to maintain design teams when you're building a bomber every thirty years.
The story of almost the entire industry. :( I've run into so many people where I work who formally worked on things like the Shuttle, Midgetman, ducted rockets / ramjets, B-2, B-1B, etc. etc., and been laid off due to lack of programs, that it's damn depressing. All that tribal knowledge / experience off doing something completely unrelated.
Endemic of the entire aerospace sector. I don’t think Boeing could design a military aircraft (fixed or rotor) out of their own staff. They just buy the staffs when they need them then slowly attrite them away.
The problem with that strategy is nobody really gets good at it and / or they take a lot of time ($$$) getting up to speed, leading to perpetual budget and schedule over runs. I predict the MMIII replacement will be a CF of epic proportions for this very reason. It's all about this quarter's returns and to hell with where the company will be in five years.
 

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Moose said:
Airplane said:
Whenever one of the suppliers we work with voluntarily drops out of a competition for business, its always been a case of they had something else more important or lucrative they are working on to consider devoting manpower or plant space to another project.

That could be the case with NG and black projects. Maybe they are spread thin with things we don't know about.

Companies exist to make money, first and foremost. I don't think a company like NG is just cherry picking what they feel like working on.
There's absolutely something NG is working in: Raider. And while NG has a history of avoiding fixed-price contracts that is probably worth some criticism, in this case it's probably a smart move not to assume extra risk for MQ-25 whime making Raider happen.
Recall, NG threatened to no-bid LRS-B after Boeing/LM offered to do it under a fixed-price contract.

And according to the GAO protest, NG's cost basis advantage for LRS-B was premised on
a workforce biased towards low skill/low-level design engineers and that they, NG,
would not have to recruit or retain higher skilled positions.

So I have trouble buying the argument that NG is engineering resource constrained.
 

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Airplane said:
Moose said:
Airplane said:
Whenever one of the suppliers we work with voluntarily drops out of a competition for business, its always been a case of they had something else more important or lucrative they are working on to consider devoting manpower or plant space to another project.

That could be the case with NG and black projects. Maybe they are spread thin with things we don't know about.

Companies exist to make money, first and foremost. I don't think a company like NG is just cherry picking what they feel like working on.
There's absolutely something NG is working in: Raider. And while NG has a history of avoiding fixed-price contracts that is probably worth some criticism, in this case it's probably a smart move not to assume extra risk for MQ-25 whime making Raider happen.
If Raider consumes all of their engineering resources, then they are in piss poor health as remaining viable. One single platform should not ever take up all of the resources of a company like NG. Gee, let's suppose Raider gets capped 30 to 40 airframes. Northrop is f***ed because they gave away T-X and the Navy drone. And then what, they wait to roll the dice on PCA and hope for a win?
NG has a SIGNIFICANT piece of F-35 production. All variations and they're in the middle of ramping up production to 15+ center fuselage sections per month.

NG is also in the middle of fielding the MQ-4C for US, Australia etc., Fire Scout and Fire-X along with many other projects. They're making smart business moves because they can.

Fixed-price development is fine if you're building a McDonalds restaurant. If it's something you've done before you probably have a good idea what it's going to cost and your risk. But there is no way in heck that it's a good idea to accept a fixed-price development cost on something you've never built.

Look at Boeing and the KC-46. They lost their shirt.
 

marauder2048

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The Washington Business Journal just reported that NG elected to No-bid on LRSO as well.


Similar to 3DELRR and MQ-25, NG was awarded (cost-plus) risk-reduction/concept definition contracts
with the expectation that they would ultimately bid.

It's become a bit of a pattern.
 

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For the Northrop design teams, I see there being at least 4 projects under way:

Advanced Concepts --> NGAD
Full scale development --> B-21
Manufacturing incremental development --> F-35

leftovers --> unspecified black projects

Why would Northrop have any more design teams available? Boeing would struggle to build two major aircraft at a time, why should Northrop be any different?

As for willingness to fire design staff, that is a major block to people considering entering the industry. If you work in Finance and Consulting, you get paid tons and usually have a solid string of related jobs for life. If you work in Aerospace, the pay is lower and halfway through your career you should expect a major career change, back to Finance and Consulting. Why bother with aerospace in the first place?
 

marauder2048

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NGAD is a pre-Milestone A effort; even the AoA won't close until late 2018.

The F-35 Block 4 FoM is mostly avionics SW/HW upgrades in
alternating 4.<odd> (SW), 4.<even> (HW) increments.

NG's workforce on B-21 is biased towards low-level/lower-skilled
engineers.
 

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TomcatViP said:
donnage99 said:
From the DEW Line
So... At the end, after all the Drama, LM was not wrong with its early proposal. ;)
I'm surprised the top of that thing is flat. I'd have thought they's have done something shaped more like Global Hawk for more volume (fuel). More like this:
 

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sferrin said:
Moose said:
And while NG has a history of avoiding fixed-price contracts that is probably worth some criticism,
Why would you criticize a company for making a smart move?
In this case I think they have a strong case for sitting out, in the past competitions they may have as well. But a company can be overly conservative with it's decision-making, which can create other problems.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
But a company can be overly conservative with it's decision-making, which can create other problems.
Considering they're able to buy Orbital ATK they must be doing something right.
 

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marauder2048 said:
NGAD is a pre-Milestone A effort; even the AoA won't close until late 2018.

The F-35 Block 4 FoM is mostly avionics SW/HW upgrades in
alternating 4.<odd> (SW), 4.<even> (HW) increments.

NG's workforce on B-21 is biased towards low-level/lower-skilled
engineers.
As I said, why would Northrop have any more aerospace engineers on staff? NGAD takes up the conceptual design group, B-21 takes up the development group, and F-35 has the leftover manufacturing group. Why would they need multiple major design teams?
 

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Large OEMs typically have more engineers on hand than required in periods of low activity. You have to keep the talent pool warm for when business picks up or else you're bringing in people who don't know their behinds from a hole in the ground and then you turn out shit product behind schedule and over budget. That's how engineering is.... It's different at the supplier companies that supply parts & components to the OEMs.

If Northrop is so overwhelmed by the B-21 that they had to turn down the USAF tanker, the USN tanker, the T-X, and the LRSO then honestly they have no business being in business. We walk and chew gum and ride bicycles all at the same time at the OEM where I am employed... If an engineer can't work on multiple projects then they won't last long. Believe it or not, a company can work on multiple different large projects at the same time. Engineering is mostly hum drum and boring when it's all on paper with enough free time to work on multiple projects. You do need program managers that are project specific... But not rank and file mechanical and electrical engineers.
 

sferrin

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Airplane said:
You have to keep the talent pool warm for when business picks up or else you're bringing in people who don't know their behinds from a hole in the ground and then you turn out shit product behind schedule and over budget.
Sounds familiar wouldn't you say? As they say, "meets schedule, meets budget, meets requirement - pick any two".
 

marauder2048

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DrRansom said:
marauder2048 said:
NGAD is a pre-Milestone A effort; even the AoA won't close until late 2018.

The F-35 Block 4 FoM is mostly avionics SW/HW upgrades in
alternating 4.<odd> (SW), 4.<even> (HW) increments.

NG's workforce on B-21 is biased towards low-level/lower-skilled
engineers.
As I said, why would Northrop have any more aerospace engineers on staff?
Because the US Government awards them these concept definition, technology development,
technology maturation, and risk reduction contracts in part to help them staff-up
for the actual competition.

sferrin said:
Moose said:
But a company can be overly conservative with it's decision-making, which can create other problems.
Considering they're able to buy Orbital ATK they must be doing something right.
Which they are doing with an $8.25 Billion Debt Offering
 

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If the proposal wants a $100M unit price (I made that up), but you think it's going to cost you 95M or more to produce, is it worth the margin? Maybe you think it will cost you 110M to simply produce at the number of units they want. And then you have a customer who has a history of radical shifts in requirements or weighting of those requirements: is it worth the headache? When the program hits delays because of the next requirements need a redesign, are you going to be holding the bag or taking the heat or the Navy? Maybe you have a sneaking suspicion that when there are program delays, there is also going to be a cut in the order size, cutting into tour margin even further. Or it's cancelled. And the a new project with other requirements will get floated and another competition ensues because the Navy really wants/needs something they just don't know what.

The latest requirements almost necessitate a tail. I'm pretty sure LM said everyone was going to need clean sheet designs to meet the latest requirements. At what point do you take Kelly's advice and find something worth investing the energy before trying another new clean sheet design for the Navy.

With the TX in sort of limbo, how much work can you justify spending on that project group as a business decision while the Air Force figures out what it really wants and when it can afford to get it?

That applies to all the manufacturers, not just NG. With the acquisition system the way it is right now, I don't blame any of them for not pouring a lot of effort into TX or CBARS.
 

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marauder2048 said:
Which they are doing with an $8.25 Billion Debt Offering
Which they would not be able to do if they were just hanging on.
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
Which they are doing with an $8.25 Billion Debt Offering
Which they would not be able to do if they were just hanging on.
Didn't mean to suggest they were. They're definitely healthy
enough to be bidding on these competitions particularly where
they've been awarded CD/TD/TM/RR contracts on the lead up.

There's always this danger in getting fixated on the margins
for niche markets; there's a single customer and no direct commercial
or foreign military sale possibilities for strategic bombers and ICBMs.
 

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TomcatViP said:
donnage99 said:
From the DEW Line
So... At the end, after all the Drama, LM was not wrong with its early proposal. ;)
closer maybe more Hybrid not T&W and not pure wing BWB. A real BWB "airplane" would be better
 

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"The Sum of Their Fears: The MQ-25 Stingray"
by Jerry Hendrix

November 6, 2017

Source:
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-sum-their-fears-the-mq-25-stingray-23062

Excerpt

The Logic Does Not Stand

When the MQ-25 RFP was released in early October, the publicly discussed specifications included the ability to provide 15,000 pounds of fuel at 500 miles from the carrier. Naval officials had previously expanded on this characteristic by stating that they hoped to extend the range of the carriers FA-18E/F Super Hornets to beyond 700 miles, and therein lay a major issue with the RFP. In moving from an unmanned combat aerial vehicle to an unmanned ISR platform thence on to an unmanned tanker, the navy appears to have lost sight of the challenge it was facing.

The contest facing the navy today—in fact the threat that tests the very relevance of each $13 billion dollar supercarrier—is the rise of anti-access/area denial (A2AD) technologies. These include the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, as well as advanced surface-to-air missile systems like the S-400. Against this technical backdrop, a tanker designed to extend the range of two Super Hornets (not stealthy aircraft and with an unrefueled range of around 500 miles) out to 700-plus miles (not 1,000 miles) doesn’t answer the enemy’s strategic challenge and, in fact, cedes the battlefield.

If the navy wants the supercarrier is to remain relevant it would be expected that it request proposals from industry for a tanker that can extend the range of two F-35Cs (stealthy aircraft with an unrefueled range of around 650 miles) to around 1,000 miles. A stealthy aircraft that can fly 1,000 miles and then launch a weapon that can go even farther can be part of the solution to the A2AD threat. To accomplish this, the MQ-25 should have been required to provide sixteen to seventeen [thousand] pounds of fuel at the 500–600 miles from the carrier range envelope. What’s more, the MQ-25 RFP should have included language that incentivize industry to build an aircraft that could operate in a contested environment and evolve into a penetrating strike bomber over time. In fact, the MQ-25 Stingray really should be a penetrating strike bomber to begin with.

In much the same way that the navy doesn’t need a carrier based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform because it already has the capability elsewhere in the force, it also doesn’t need an unmanned carrier based mission tanker. It did appear to need one a few years ago when concerns mounted that the mission tanking mission was placing undue strain on the wings of the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornet inventory. It was felt that this mission would cause those aircraft to expend their wing life well before their scheduled retirement date. However, the Department of Defense and the Congress have now agreed to reopen the Boeing Super Hornet production line and the navy will not face a Super Hornet crisis as long as it keeps building new aircraft—which it should.

It Really Should Be All About Penetrating Strike

In the late 1940s following the devastation of World War II and the losses of ships, aircraft and lives to Japanese Kamikaze attacks, naval aviation made a decision to build an aircraft carrier large enough to be able to launch and recover big planes that could fly long distances to attack the enemy. The Cold War carrier air wing strike range allowed the carrier to stand far outside the threat range of enemy aircraft while remaining capable of attacking its enemies with great lethality and effectiveness. The navy maintained this capability for forty years, but in the 1990s it began to retire its older aircraft and initiated a retreat from range and the dissolution of the penetrating strike mission. Whereas the carrier air wing of the Cold War could fly nearly 1,000 miles unrefueled, today’s air wing can only go approximately 500 miles. To counter current and future A2AD technologies and keep the carrier and its air wing relevant, the navy needs what it first asked for in 2006 as part of the UCAS-D project: a long range, all aspect stealth, penetrating bomber that can travel well in excess of 1,000 miles and deliver precision strike weapons well within A2AD weapons envelopes. Instead, the navy has walked down a meandering path from penetrating strike, to a strike and ISR platform, to a ISR only platform, to a robust tanker that can operate in a contested space to a very basic tanker that the navy no longer really needs. With requirements shifting so much, no wonder that someone in industry got nervous and pulled out of the competition....
 

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Triton said:
"The Sum of Their Fears: The MQ-25 Stingray"
by Jerry Hendrix

November 6, 2017

Source:
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-sum-their-fears-the-mq-25-stingray-23062

Excerpt

It Really Should Be All About Penetrating Strike

In the late 1940s following the devastation of World War II and the losses of ships, aircraft and lives to Japanese Kamikaze attacks, naval aviation made a decision to build an aircraft carrier large enough to be able to launch and recover big planes that could fly long distances to attack the enemy. The Cold War carrier air wing strike range allowed the carrier to stand far outside the threat range of enemy aircraft while remaining capable of attacking its enemies with great lethality and effectiveness. The navy maintained this capability for forty years, but in the 1990s it began to retire its older aircraft and initiated a retreat from range and the dissolution of the penetrating strike mission. Whereas the carrier air wing of the Cold War could fly nearly 1,000 miles unrefueled, today’s air wing can only go approximately 500 miles. To counter current and future A2AD technologies and keep the carrier and its air wing relevant, the navy needs what it first asked for in 2006 as part of the UCAS-D project: a long range, all aspect stealth, penetrating bomber that can travel well in excess of 1,000 miles and deliver precision strike weapons well within A2AD weapons envelopes. Instead, the navy has walked down a meandering path from penetrating strike, to a strike and ISR platform, to a ISR only platform, to a robust tanker that can operate in a contested space to a very basic tanker that the navy no longer really needs. With requirements shifting so much, no wonder that someone in industry got nervous and pulled out of the competition....

I mean, I have a feeling that the USN's goal is to get there eventually, but do the brass think it's too ambitious to aim for that directly?

Obviously optimally having an all aspect stealthy UCAV with 1000 mile combat radius would be the direct response to a long range missile weapon that can hold carriers at risk at long range, but if it's a bit too expensive or a bit too risky to develop it straight off the bat, then maybe better work with what they have?

Of course, the problem is that the MQ-25 might not be the optimal solution for providing long range strike capability to USN supercarrier strike fighters, and when a 1000 mile stealthy UCAV does enter service the issue of whether a longer range AShBM might enter service is a topic to consider (DF-26 is 4000km and was described during its unveiling as having an AShBM capability too).
 

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https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2017/10/26/northrop-decision-to-drop-out-of-drone-competition.html

Northrop decision to drop out of drone competition a sign of present and future discipline

By Robert J. Terry – Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal
Oct 26, 2017, 7:38am EDT Updated Oct 26, 2017, 11:15am EDT

In his assessment of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s third-quarter performance, CEO Wes Bush drew notice for what he said the company would not do as much as for the opportunities the Falls Church defense giant would pursue.

Northrop (NYSE: NOC) won’t, for example, put forward a bid for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned tanker aircraft, Bush said on an investor call Wednesday detailing the company’s quarterly performance. It reported net earnings of $645 million, a 7 percent bump, on revenue of $6.5 billion, which increased 6 percent. The company raised its revenue estimate for 2017 to $25.5 billion.

Sales in its aerospace systems unit jumped 11 percent to almost $3.1 billion, while revenue in its mission systems unit climbed 5 percent to $2.8 billion. The technology services business saw a 1 percent sales decline to $1.2 billion.

The MQ-25 announcement surprised defense industry watchers, as detailed in this Defense News writeup.

Nor will Northrop pursue commodity-type technology services work. If that means revenue declines in the $4.8 billion unit that contains its government IT work, so be it — Bush wants to rebalance that portfolio so higher-value work continues to drive better margins.

The MQ-25 is, as one Wall Street analyst on Wednesday’s call noted, Northrop’s third “no-bid” this year for a major defense acquisition program. The company decided not to compete for the the Air Force’s T-X training aircraft and also bowed out of the Long Range Standoff Weapon.

“Our objective is not just to win,” Bush said. “Winning is great. It feels good on the day of an announcement, but if you can’t really execute on it and deliver on it to your customer and your shareholders, then you’ve done the wrong thing.”

Contrast that with the effusive way Bush talked about Northrop’s planned $7.8 billion union with Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) and the differences in tone are noticeable. Bush ruminated on how space has evolved from a “permissive environment” to one where adversaries are on the hunt for vulnerabilities with satellites and missile defense systems — providing those opportunities to both win and execute.

Northrop is developing the B-21 Raider, the long-range stealth bomber, for the Air Force, while it also builds large satellites, develops technology for autonomous systems and radars, and has a large cyber division. Dulles-based Orbital ATK designs, manufactures and supports a number of space, missile and armament systems and also does work in advanced aircraft programs.

Northrop and Orbital ATK have the complementary portfolios — large assets and smaller agile response capabilities, respectively — and mission areas to drive revenue synergies that will make an impact in short order, Bush said.

“We are at the dawn of a dramatic shift in the way that our architecture for our space assets is being assessed,” he said. “And as you think forward in that regard, it’s really going to take the combination of different classes of capabilities to create in space what we’ve essentially done as a nation with our allies over many years in the air domain, in the sea domain, and other important domains.”.

The contrast in tone makes sense in light of a new market analysis from Govini. The Arlington-based business intelligence firm designates the combined company a top four space and defense player — leapfrogging General Dynamics, SpaceX and other industry peers — thanks to the capability boost in missiles, munitions and space vehicles that Orbital will bring.

Reduced defense spending on fewer programs requires more sophisticated multi-function systems, according to Govini, and that means companies need to own platforms and systems and serve several markets.

Combo that with an emphasis on bid discipline and “great clarity around what our objectives are,” as Bush said, and Northrop will have a scaled offering in prime position to, for example, compete against Boeing to replace the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system, an $85 billion to $350 billion upgrade.

Orbital ATK shareholders are scheduled to consider the proposed deal on Nov. 29, Bush said, and Northrop still expects regulatory approval in the first half of 2018. The deal is being billed as the largest military space deal since 2015 and on par with two of the more seismic M&A events in recent defense industry history: the $10 billion Lockheed Corp.-Martin Marietta deal in 1994, which birthed Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), the largest defense contractor in the U.S., and the $7.8 billion Northrop-TRW merger in 2002.
 

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Blitzo said:
I mean, I have a feeling that the USN's goal is to get there eventually, but do the brass think it's too ambitious to aim for that directly?
This.
My take on this is that the Navy are looking to perfect the carrier-borne UAV technology first, by which I mean deck operations, sortie planning, etc. with something 'simple', like a tanker, before adding on 'difficult' things like strike missions, etc.
It's my belief that the Navy has decided that going straight to the Strike role for a carrier-borne UAV is too risky . . .


cheers,
Robin.
 

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Blitzo said:
I mean, I have a feeling that the USN's goal is to get there eventually, but do the brass think it's too ambitious to aim for that directly

Obviously optimally having an all aspect stealthy UCAV with 1000 mile combat radius would be the direct response to a long range missile weapon that can hold carriers at risk at long range, but if it's a bit too expensive or a bit too risky to develop it straight off the bat, then maybe better work with what they have?

Of course, the problem is that the MQ-25 might not be the optimal solution for providing long range strike capability to USN supercarrier strike fighters, and when a 1000 mile stealthy UCAV does enter service the issue of whether a longer range AShBM might enter service is a topic to consider (DF-26 is 4000km and was described during its unveiling as having an AShBM capability too).
The article main point is that the proposed MQ-25 is inadequate to it's natural role, making the program a high-candidate for cancellation.

As a tanker, it will have too little fuel to boost F-35 range up to 700nm. Instead, it is sized to boost F-18 range. That doesn't make a ton of sense, because the F-35 will be the Navy's premier strike aircraft. Moreover, the recovery tanker role is becoming unnecessary because the USN is resuming Super Hornet production, allowing for airframe replacement.

In a few years, the US Navy may very well decide that it needs a 1000nm+ stealthy strike aircraft. The MQ-25 as proposed doesnt' assist the current airwing reach that range and it takes up programmatic dollars from developing a UCAS that could fulfill that role. With ongoing Super Hornet production, there isn't much need for a recovery tanker either.

That leaves the MQ-25 as a possibly uncessary airplane, only a handful of years after it is proposed.
 

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DrRansom said:
Blitzo said:
I mean, I have a feeling that the USN's goal is to get there eventually, but do the brass think it's too ambitious to aim for that directly

Obviously optimally having an all aspect stealthy UCAV with 1000 mile combat radius would be the direct response to a long range missile weapon that can hold carriers at risk at long range, but if it's a bit too expensive or a bit too risky to develop it straight off the bat, then maybe better work with what they have?

Of course, the problem is that the MQ-25 might not be the optimal solution for providing long range strike capability to USN supercarrier strike fighters, and when a 1000 mile stealthy UCAV does enter service the issue of whether a longer range AShBM might enter service is a topic to consider (DF-26 is 4000km and was described during its unveiling as having an AShBM capability too).
The article main point is that the proposed MQ-25 is inadequate to it's natural role, making the program a high-candidate for cancellation.

As a tanker, it will have too little fuel to boost F-35 range up to 700nm. Instead, it is sized to boost F-18 range. That doesn't make a ton of sense, because the F-35 will be the Navy's premier strike aircraft. Moreover, the recovery tanker role is becoming unnecessary because the USN is resuming Super Hornet production, allowing for airframe replacement.

In a few years, the US Navy may very well decide that it needs a 1000nm+ stealthy strike aircraft. The MQ-25 as proposed doesnt' assist the current airwing reach that range and it takes up programmatic dollars from developing a UCAS that could fulfill that role. With ongoing Super Hornet production, there isn't much need for a recovery tanker either.

That leaves the MQ-25 as a possibly uncessary airplane, only a handful of years after it is proposed.
The more we hear about the more it sounds like they really haven't thought this through coherently. (As hard as that is to believe as many years as they've been dicking around with this, pardon my French.)
 

DrRansom

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sferrin said:
The more we hear about the more it sounds like they really haven't thought this through coherently. (As hard as that is to believe as many years as they've been dicking around with this, pardon my French.)
What was Kelly Johnson's 15th rule?

As for the article, somebody in the industry must have told the author that the fuel weight was wrong. The difference is minor, 2000lbs and maybe 50 to 100nm, but significant in that it prevents optimal tankerage for the F-35 wing. That difference would only be apparent to an industry representative, not a military commentator.

The MQ-25 right now is too narrowly focused and appears to be aimed at a wrong problem. I could see a non-stealthy MQ-25 being used for stand-off EW at range, ASW support, and tanking. But a tanker with the wrong fuel load? Easy cancellation candidate.
 

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"Navy official says he's 'surprised' Northrop exited MQ-25 competition"
November 03, 2017 |
Lee Hudson

Source:
https://insidedefense.com/insider/navy-official-says-hes-surprised-northrop-exited-mq-25-competition

A senior Navy official said this week he's “surprised” Northrop Grumman dropped out of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier tanker competition.

“It's unfortunate. We thought that they would stay in the competition, but we have three very capable folks still in -- Boeing, [General Atomics] and Lockheed Martin,” Vice Adm. David Johnson, principal military deputy to the Navy's acquisition executive, told reporters Thursday.

Johnson said Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman's chief executive, sent a letter to the Navy secretary and the chief of naval operations outlining the company's reasons for dropping out.

“We knew that they were worried about the [request for proposals] because we really tooled it toward the tanker, and their X-47B -- if they derived off of that -- it would've taken some redesign to keep it cost competitive,” he added.

The Navy conducted “concept refinement studies” to better define MQ-25 requirements and worked with industry throughout the process, he added.

“It just takes a lot of work -- the CNO personally met with all four [companies] and met twice with [each of] them,” Johnson said.

Navy officials also went to each company's facility as they weighed what to include in the RFP.

Bush announced during a call with analysts last month the company would not bid on MQ-25 because Northrop “could not put forward an attractive offering to the Navy that would represent a reasonable business proposition.”
 

marauder2048

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I hope NG has convinced itself that NAVAIR won't elect to consolidate its BAMS platforms to some MQ-25 variant.
 

marauder2048

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DrRansom said:
As a tanker, it will have too little fuel to boost F-35 range up to 700nm. Instead, it is sized to boost F-18 range. That doesn't make a ton of sense, because the F-35 will be the Navy's premier strike aircraft.
Unfortunately, all of the future fleet studies (commissioned by the Navy) have essentially 2 squadrons of Super Hornets (24 aircraft) + 8 x EA-18Gs
along with 2 squadrons of F-35Cs (20 aircraft).

So the CVW will be predominantly Super Bug for many years to come.
 

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DrRansom said:
sferrin said:
The more we hear about the more it sounds like they really haven't thought this through coherently. (As hard as that is to believe as many years as they've been dicking around with this, pardon my French.)
What was Kelly Johnson's 15th rule?

As for the article, somebody in the industry must have told the author that the fuel weight was wrong. The difference is minor, 2000lbs and maybe 50 to 100nm, but significant in that it prevents optimal tankerage for the F-35 wing. That difference would only be apparent to an industry representative, not a military commentator.

The MQ-25 right now is too narrowly focused and appears to be aimed at a wrong problem. I could see a non-stealthy MQ-25 being used for stand-off EW at range, ASW support, and tanking. But a tanker with the wrong fuel load? Easy cancellation candidate.
The United States Navy requirement is to bring the carrier air wing up to or beyond a combat radius of 700 nautical miles, so the fuel load of the MQ-25 Stingray at 15,000 pounds or 2,200 gallons should be adequate. It is Dr. Jerry Hendrix who is advocating a combat radius of 1,000 (nautical?) miles for the F-35C and a fuel load of sixteen to seventeen thousand pounds for the MQ-25 Stingray to refuel two F-35C fighters. We can debate whether the MQ-25 Stingray RFP should have required that it bring the carrier air up to a combat radius of 1,000 nautical miles.
 

sferrin

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Triton said:
DrRansom said:
sferrin said:
The more we hear about the more it sounds like they really haven't thought this through coherently. (As hard as that is to believe as many years as they've been dicking around with this, pardon my French.)
What was Kelly Johnson's 15th rule?

As for the article, somebody in the industry must have told the author that the fuel weight was wrong. The difference is minor, 2000lbs and maybe 50 to 100nm, but significant in that it prevents optimal tankerage for the F-35 wing. That difference would only be apparent to an industry representative, not a military commentator.

The MQ-25 right now is too narrowly focused and appears to be aimed at a wrong problem. I could see a non-stealthy MQ-25 being used for stand-off EW at range, ASW support, and tanking. But a tanker with the wrong fuel load? Easy cancellation candidate.
The United States Navy requirement is to bring the carrier air wing up to or beyond a combat radius of 700 nautical miles, so the fuel load of the MQ-25 Stingray at 15,000 pounds or 2,200 gallons should be adequate. It is Dr. Jerry Hendrix who is advocating a combat radius of 1,000 (nautical?) miles for the F-35C and a fuel load of sixteen to seventeen thousand pounds for the MQ-25 Stingray to refuel two F-35C fighters.
I wonder why, given that there's never a shortage of need of a tanker, that they didn't just say, "how much tanker can I get at 80,000lbs"? Is the incremental cost of the larger aircraft really than much more? It's not like they're going to be filling flight decks as it is.
 

marauder2048

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Triton said:
From SpazSinbad, fuel load of F-18 Super Hornet.
Total fuel carried in the 5-wet configuration is 28,000 lbs of which ~ 5000 lbs is offloadable.

Frankly, I'm suprised the Hornet mafia hasn't proposed Hornet variants for AWACS, COD and ASW.
 

Triton

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"Navy Releases Final MQ-25 Stingray RFP; General Atomics Bid Revealed"
By: Sam LaGrone
October 10, 2017 5:51 PM

Source:
https://news.usni.org/2017/10/10/navy-releases-final-mq-25-stingray-rfp-general-atomics-bid-revealed

Of the four companies vying for the business, General Atomics has released the first complete images of its planned bid for Stingray.

The aircraft is a wing-body-tail design that shares design characteristics with the General Atomics Avenger design, including a turbofan engine and V-shaped tailfins.

The image, provided to USNI News, show the GA Stingray concept fielding a standard D-704 buddy tank refueling system.

While company representatives didn’t reveal details of the bid, like aircraft dimensions or internal fuel capacity, they did point out some features unique to the GA bid. The aircraft will have an electro-optical ball like GA’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAVs; landing gear that pulls into the fuselage, which is reminiscent of the old S-3 Viking anti-submarine warfare aircraft; and a system for maneuvering around the flight deck using gestures from the flight crew, retired Rear Adm. Terry Kraft who now works for General Atomics told USNI News on Saturday.

In addition to the carrier suitability requirements set by the Navy, GA has included a margin for growth.

“You can see a future for weaponization, you could see a future for ISR capability. The Navy has already asked us to put hooks in there for a radar and I think it’s very logical that the first spiral would be some type of radar installation,” Kraft said.
“At the end of the day, the UAV is a truck.”
 

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VTOLicious

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I found this article from Aug 2016 interesting (as well by Jerry Hendrix):

Naval Aviation: To be Relevant or Not, That is the Question
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/naval-aviation-be-relevant-or-not-be-the-question-17432

"...Seven aircraft large enough to give 20,000 pounds of fuel will mean that they are not small. Hence they will be in excess of a 1.0 spot factor (basically the size of a FA-18C Hornet) on the carrier’s deck. Conversations with naval aviation planners suggest that 7.0 “spots” are all that is available on the carrier’s deck, an assertion that deserves further scrutiny..."

BR Michael
 
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