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

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Looking at the recent image posted of the Lockheed UCLASS: deployed spoilers on the wing upper surface and the split slot deflectors on the port and starboard wing panels, I would call their landing on an aircraft carrier "full commitment". How are you going to waive off a missed landing when you are dumping lift from these control effectors (read kinetic energy)? They must have enough confidence in their proprietary autopilot system to not be concerned about a missed trap.
 

Triton

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"More UCLASS details from Lockheed"

by Dave Majumdar
on April 11, 2013 8:55 PM

Source:
http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2013/04/more-uclass-details-from-lockh.html

Lockheed Martin is revealing additional details about its submission for the US Navy's Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft programme saying it has already built a full-scale mock-up of the flying wing design.

"We have a full-scale mock-up," says Robert Ruszkowski, Lockheed's director of UCLASS programme development. "That's been a good engineering tool to look at fit checks."

Thumbnail image for LM-UCLASS_AlongCoast-12000.jpgFor its concept, the company's Skunk Works design team has selected a flying wing configuration because it is particularly well suited for the missions that the UCLASS is expected to fly.

"There is nothing inherently unique about a flying wing, but we have a lot of experience with them," Ruszkowski says.

The flying wing's combination of aerodynamically efficiency, potential for very low signatures and structural simplicity make it ideal for an application like the UCLASS, he says. The design would allow the aircraft to be adapted to operate against a broad swath of threats ranging from permissive airspace to the anti-access/area denial environments. "We've got the right shape for that, we've got the right materials from the [Lockheed] F-35 that can be readily leveraged," Ruszkowski adds.

While the Lockheed UCLASS has the range and persistence to fly deep into enemy territory, it does not have the weapons payload of a true long-range strike platform like the old Grumman A-6 Intruder. "We think there is an element of the mission set that might be for long range operations, but it is truly not for large payloads at long ranges," Ruszkowski says. "Trying to keep the system affordable, this will not be anywhere near a replacement for an A-6 from a strike perspective."

Because flying wings are structurally simple, they are also easier to manufacture, which helps the design to be affordable. "There is not as much tooling associated with say a flying wing compared to a more conventional design," Ruszkowski says.

Lockheed also plans on reusing as much existing hardware as possible on its UCLASS design--that might even mean adapting equipment such as the aircraft's landing gear from another platform.

The company is also designing its UCLASS concept to have open architecture avionics not only so that existing computer hardware can be reused, but it would also allow the USN to modify the sensor payloads easily. "The navy has made it clear they would like to have the ability to put new sensors or new mission systems onboard UCLASS over time," Ruszkowski says. "Obviously open architecture facilitates that."

From what specifications the navy has released, it is apparent that the service is focusing in the interfaces for the various sensors and communications gear--which suggests an open architecture design will be required.

Lockheed has also worked hard to make sure one operator can "fly" multiple aircraft, Ruszkowski says. The operator would control the aircraft by exception, which means he or she would only directly intervene in the operation of a particular UCLASS air vehicle if something of particular significance were to be occurring. By and large, the Lockheed UCLASS is designed to operate as autonomously as practical given navy operational doctrines and rules of engagement, as well as air traffic management procedures.
 

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TAGBOARD, without the spoilers the engine thrust setting during the approach is so low that spoolup time gets too long to satisfy the waveoff criteria. Spoilers retract immediately in such case and engine needs less time to get to max.
 

Trident

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Speaking of the engines, is that a RQ-170-style mesh screen in the intake on Triton's second image?
 
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Ian33

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The Sea Ghost has a grid like the f117 set back behind the intake in the picture where its on the carier. On another site, a USAG refueller operations guy talks if doing practise refuellings with the RQ 170. It is a good read and the man has some amazing air to air photos of the B2 and F22.
 

fightingirish

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Just noticed on this mockup, that the Lockheed UCLASS will have a fine-meshed grid in the inlet. Similar like its 'older sisters' RQ-170 Sentinel and F-117 Nighthawk. ;)
[...] Meanwhile, back in scenic Crystal City, Lockheed showed off this picture of their Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft mockup. Lockheed hopes to displace Northrop's entrant--likely X-47B derived--for the Navy's UCLASS effort. The UCLASS program will actually take four separate designs to a preliminary design review before downselecting to one. The UCLASS, which is an operational successor to the X-47B demonstrator, will likely be smaller than the Northrop-built prototypes and will likely only have a light strike capability. [...]
Source: Flight Global Blog The Dew Line The day of the unmanned aircraft
 

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Would it be likely then that there's no real serpentining of the intake? If so, that could perhaps allow superior weapons carriage at little cost except perhaps to engine performance, if it's to operate at high-subsonic speeds. Depending on the engine utilised, it could be possible that the grill could cause x-band, etc radar emissions to be trapped / absorbed between the fan face and grill.
 

TAGBOARD

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Machdiamond: Got it, thanks. I should have recalled they land as if their feet are on the gas and brake at the same time. Like you implied, engine spool-up would take longer than is needed, as well as possible compressor stall.
 

sferrin

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"The UCLASS, which is an operational successor to the X-47B demonstrator, will likely be smaller than the Northrop-built prototypes and will likely only have a light strike capability."

Any idea why they would do that? I'd think they'd want to get as much as they can with it. ???
 
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Ian33

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sferrin said:
"The UCLASS, which is an operational successor to the X-47B demonstrator, will likely be smaller than the Northrop-built prototypes and will likely only have a light strike capability."

Any idea why they would do that? I'd think they'd want to get as much as they can with it. ???
I was thinking the same thing reading that piece. My first thought was 'if you have a small aircraft you surely cannot get long enough range for a Naval airframe'. A second thought was (just wondering out loud) if they don't want to clash with a USAF effort?
 

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USAF isn't factoring in directly, there are a number of factors at play but among the biggest is F-35. The F-35 program is eating a lot of money, so the Navy is trying to keep UCLASS affordable. There's also concern that the political supporters of JSF would take the knives to UCLASS if they saw it as a direct threat to their bird.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
USAF isn't factoring in directly, there are a number of factors at play but among the biggest is F-35. The F-35 program is eating a lot of money, so the Navy is trying to keep UCLASS affordable. There's also concern that the political supporters of JSF would take the knives to UCLASS if they saw it as a direct threat to their bird.
Don't know why they would think it's a threat. It compliments the F-35 not competes with it. It's an A-6 to the F-35s F-4. Finally.
 

Moose

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sferrin said:
Moose said:
USAF isn't factoring in directly, there are a number of factors at play but among the biggest is F-35. The F-35 program is eating a lot of money, so the Navy is trying to keep UCLASS affordable. There's also concern that the political supporters of JSF would take the knives to UCLASS if they saw it as a direct threat to their bird.
Don't know why they would think it's a threat. It compliments the F-35 not competes with it. It's an A-6 to the F-35s F-4. Finally.
F-35 is not in any way an F-4, nor UCLASS an A6, but that's beside the point. Legislators see threats to their districts' programs everywhere, particularly in a tight budget environment.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
F-35 is not in any way an F-4, nor UCLASS an A6, but that's beside the point.
The F-35 is in every way a modern F-4. And UCLASS brings back the strike range that's been lacking since the A-6. Granted, the A-6 had a lot of capability the UCLASS never will (at least in uncontested airspace) but the extra range will be a boon.
 

quellish

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Ian33 said:
I was thinking the same thing reading that piece. My first thought was 'if you have a small aircraft you surely cannot get long enough range for a Naval airframe'. A second thought was (just wondering out loud) if they don't want to clash with a USAF effort?
You can get plenty of range.
UCLASS is a penetrating, persistent ISR platform with a (very) limited penetrating strike capability. The only USAF effort that comes close would be NGB, which is much larger.
 

BioLuminescentLamprey

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Moose said:
USAF isn't factoring in directly, there are a number of factors at play but among the biggest is F-35. The F-35 program is eating a lot of money, so the Navy is trying to keep UCLASS affordable. There's also concern that the political supporters of JSF would take the knives to UCLASS if they saw it as a direct threat to their bird.
Is there any evidence, say a link, that this is true?

I'm not suggesting it's not true, mind you.
 

Moose

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sferrin said:
The F-35 is in every way a modern F-4. And UCLASS brings back the strike range that's been lacking since the A-6. Granted, the A-6 had a lot of capability the UCLASS never will (at least in uncontested airspace) but the extra range will be a boon.
I'm sorry but no. If you're looking for the modern F-4 on a carrier, the yellow shirts are going to point you at the Super Hornet. F-35 is replacing the basic Hornet, which replaced the A-7.

BioLuminescentLamprey said:
Is there any evidence, say a link, that this is true?

I'm not suggesting it's not true, mind you.
To which, cost containment or Congress? I don't have anything laying out Navy's strategy for shaping the debate in Congress, no. But you can see evidence of it working. Randy Forbes, who's a rather prominent F-35 cheerleader, has become a loud advocate of UCLASS.
 

AeroFranz

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I'd be surprised if UCLASS got smaller. That's not historically the trend prototypes follow. I'm not saying it would be the wrong thing to do, it's just that the customer is always pushing for heavier and farther, and it makes no sense to go back to a smaller platform. We went from tiny X-47A to fairly large -B. i'm assuming all the trades that went into sizing the aircraft have already been performed. Just wait some time and inevitable weight growth will creep in. Might as well start with the larger platform.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
sferrin said:
The F-35 is in every way a modern F-4. And UCLASS brings back the strike range that's been lacking since the A-6. Granted, the A-6 had a lot of capability the UCLASS never will (at least in uncontested airspace) but the extra range will be a boon.
I'm sorry but no. If you're looking for the modern F-4 on a carrier, the yellow shirts are going to point you at the Super Hornet.

In what way is the F-35 not a modern F-4 where the Super Hornet is?
 

Vahe Demirjian

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Regarding the designation for the UCLASS program, if Northrop Grumman's X-47B is declared the winner of the UCLASS competition, the DoD should designate the Navy UCAV A-11 rather than A-47 to avoid creating a third out-of-sequence designation in the post-1962 attack series.

On another question, how will the cost of the UCLASS program affect the Navy's original procurement for the F-35 and the P-8? The concern is that if the cost of the UCLASS rises twofold, then the Navy may have to cut the F-35C procurement in half and cancel plans for a variant of the P-8 to replace the EP-3C.
 

AeroFranz

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Vahe Demirjian said:
On another question, how will the cost of the UCLASS program affect the Navy's original procurement for the F-35 and the P-8? The concern is that if the cost of the UCLASS rises twofold, then the Navy may have to cut the F-35C procurement in half and cancel plans for a variant of the P-8 to replace the EP-3C.

That is assuming UCLASS will cost as much as an F-35C. I hope that's not the case.
 

gTg

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It's "$150 million per orbit", i suppose you need at least 2-3 drones to keep up an orbit 24/7.
 

Vahe Demirjian

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The UCLASS program will be assigned a designation by the end of the year (http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/auvsi-usn-to-designate-uclass-before-end-of-fiscal-year-389506/). The million-dollar question is: what will the designation be?

In the past, combat UAVs have been assigned designations starting with "MQ-". Since RQ-12 has been assigned to the Wasp III for the Marines, the UCLASS may be designated either A-14 or MQ-23.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://news.usni.org/2013/11/18/debate-continues-uclass-requirements
 

sublight is back

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But Manazir cautioned that the UCLASS will not be nearly as stealthy as the F-35C.
I guess it wont look anything like the X-47B then. The weight will double too...
 

sferrin

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sublight is back said:
But Manazir cautioned that the UCLASS will not be nearly as stealthy as the F-35C.
I guess it wont look anything like the X-47B then. The weight will double too...
?? 120,000 lbs would be too much for a carrier.
 

GeorgeA

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sferrin said:
George Allegrezza said:
UCLASS concept now 70K to 80K lbs, has tanker and AMRAAM carrier roles, possibly with an unaugmented F135:


http://news.usni.org/2013/12/23/navy-uclass-will-stealthy-tomcat-size
That sounds almost too good to be true.

I'm wondering if the Navy is institutionally beginning to believe that, with the Pacific pivot, the A-12 mission never really went away, and they're trying to expand the UCLASS program to include some of the Avenger's capabilties in a platform that can be deployed relatively quickly.
 

sublight is back

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sferrin said:
sublight is back said:
But Manazir cautioned that the UCLASS will not be nearly as stealthy as the F-35C.
I guess it wont look anything like the X-47B then. The weight will double too...
?? 120,000 lbs would be too much for a carrier.
I'm saying it wont have the same stealthy shape, and at least double the mass @ 80,000 lbs.
 

sferrin

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War is Boring delivers yet again:
"The manned planes would spot targets and the UCLASS would fire air-to-air missiles, functioning as a sort of “flying missile magazine,” Manazir said."
Hardly dogfighting as they claim in their headline. ::)
 

BioLuminescentLamprey

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sferrin said:
War is Boring delivers yet again:
"The manned planes would spot targets and the UCLASS would fire air-to-air missiles, functioning as a sort of “flying missile magazine,” Manazir said."
Hardly dogfighting as they claim in their headline. ::)
I can't help but feel a little ashamed for David Axe, as if he were a kid who would one day look back at his youthful idiocies and become embarrassed. ..but this is a grown man! One who has never worn a uniform, has no experience, knowledge or even passion for his subject matter.

Why not write about I-Pads, slacker culture, black rimmed glasses, X-boxes etc? Stuff he might be a little more familiar with.
 

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http://sfte2013.com/files/78615244.pdf
 

Sentinel36k

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As far as lockheeds vision of UCLASS found this, it's from 2000 but the shape is the same as the sea ghosts exhaust.
https://www.google.sc/patents/US6962044 It seems as if they have been working on related LO tech for awhile?

Sentinel
 

quellish

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George Allegrezza said:
I'm wondering if the Navy is institutionally beginning to believe that, with the Pacific pivot, the A-12 mission never really went away, and they're trying to expand the UCLASS program to include some of the Avenger's capabilties in a platform that can be deployed relatively quickly.
The A-12 requirements - as they were at the termination of the program - never went away. USN tried to scale back their expectations during AX/AFX, knowing they would not get quite everything they wanted. Going into JSF they knew that it wasn't even going to come close, and they would have to wait longer for platforms that could meet their requirements. UCAS-N was hoped to meet most of those requirements (save for the A2A), and later FA-XX was to meet the remainder.

Now it looks like UCLASS is being significantly rescoped, which may put even more requirements pressure on the next Navy platform.
 

F-14D

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quellish said:
George Allegrezza said:
I'm wondering if the Navy is institutionally beginning to believe that, with the Pacific pivot, the A-12 mission never really went away, and they're trying to expand the UCLASS program to include some of the Avenger's capabilties in a platform that can be deployed relatively quickly.
The A-12 requirements - as they were at the termination of the program - never went away. USN tried to scale back their expectations during AX/AFX, knowing they would not get quite everything they wanted. Going into JSF they knew that it wasn't even going to come close, and they would have to wait longer for platforms that could meet their requirements. UCAS-N was hoped to meet most of those requirements (save for the A2A), and later FA-XX was to meet the remainder.

Now it looks like UCLASS is being significantly rescoped, which may put even more requirements pressure on the next Navy platform.
There are a number of theories out there as to why this is happening to UCLASS, a number of people in USN are quire upset about it.

Three main surmises seem to be emerging that have "traction" (in no particular order).

1. F-35 lobby doesn't want a strike aircraft coming out too soon that significantly outranges it, lest that threaten the program.

2. When A-12, and more importantly, A/FX died and Super Hornet remained, USN essentially was out of the deep strike mission. USAF lobby doesn't want USN to get it back lest that threaten their roles and mission.

3. Existing UCAVs are fine for operating in permissive airspace and blowing up terrorists at short to medium ranges, but they can't really be used to project power. Current climate in DC is uncomfortable with US projecting power, so range and capability was reduced to resolve that.

Take your pick, or make your own guess
 
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