09 September, 2015 BY: James Drew - FG
Washington DC - The long-running debate over the mission of the US Navy's carrier-launched unmanned surveillance and strike aircraft might have set the "UCLASS" competition back few years, but the maritime force's acquisition chief says getting the requirements right from the beginning is vital.
“This programme is in acquisition hell right now. It’s been inside the building for three years, just trying to get out and see the light of day,” Navy assistant secretary Sean Stackley said at a Navy League forum in Washington 9 September. “We’ll debate on it some more this fall (September to November) with OSD to determine whether or not we have the right programme, not just for the navy, but the nation.” With many conflicting views and opinions about the role of the aircraft, Stackley says once the requirements question is settled, the programme will have a much better chance of delivering the carrier-based UAV the navy needs to maintain its technological edge. “It will be five to 10 years before [UCLASS] is operational, and then it will be flying for another 20 to 25 years. We’ve got to get it right,” he says. “We’re all being patient. Industry is being patient. The navy views this as a critical programme and we’ve got to leverage what unmanned offers to our [carrier] air wing sooner rather than later.”