Sentinel, Feet Wet?

Lockheed Martin’s Skunkworks on Tuesday unveiled the company’s entry in the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike competition. The company is touting the design, which bears a resemblance to its classified Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel remotely piloted aircraft, as leveraging its experience on other unmanned systems as well as the F-35 to achieve “maximum reuse of hardware and software” toward lowering cost and risk. The unnamed design, which features folding wings for carrier duty, embodies “multi-spectral stealth,” said the company. A video on Lockheed Martin’s website describes the vehicle’s mission as performing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance as well as strike, communications relay, and aerial refueling. The Navy wants to get the UCLASS into production by 2016, and has identified Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman as companies capable of doing the work. Navy officials said they plan to take all four companies into a design phase. Northrop Grumman has been flying its X-47B as a UCLASS technology demonstrator. The UCLASS is the descendant of the joint Air Force-Navy program to develop a new class of combat RPAs, which included Boeing’s X-45 demonstrator. The Air Force withdrew from the project to pursue its next-generation bomber.