Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has asked Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to prioritize the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike program, Breaking Defense reported Tuesday.
Colin Clark writes that the program has faced delays over concerns on the balance of requirements in weapons payload size, operational range and stealth functions for the carrier-based drone.
“I think this would be a lost learning opportunity in what promises to be a a critical area for sustaining the long-term operational and strategic relevance of the aircraft carrier,” McCain said in a letter to Carter, according to the report.
The U.S. Navy is currently preparing the UCLASS program’s final request for proposals, the report said.
An internal Defense Department review of its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs is also underway, the report said.
McCain is asking DoD and the Navy for UCLASS features such as broadband stealth, an internal weapons payload capacity of 4,000 pounds and a refueled mission endurance of several days.
LaGrone reports that the senator has also pointed to utilizing Northrop’s X-47B for carrier-based drone operations and Lockheed’s F-35C as a model for payload capacity.