The U.S. Navy has tested a command-and-control system for the service branch’s future MQ-25A unmanned aerial refueling tanker in an effort to validate the C2 platform’s function to control and relay data, Defense News reported.
Capt. Beau Duarte, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager at the Naval Air Systems Command, said integrating the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System into the Navy’s communications infrastructure will be a key step for MQ-25A operations.
The Navy aims to deploy MQ-25A drones on the Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush aircraft carriers as soon as 2019, with a goal to eventually operate the unmanned tankers aboard Nimitz– and Ford-class ships.
Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman received a draft request for proposals in July as part of the service branch’s plan to award an MQ-25A engineering and manufacturing development contract in 2018.
All four companies secured contracts worth a combined $167 million during 2016 to help reduce risks associated with the MQ-25A program.
The UMCS mission control system is based on current Navy technologies such as the Common Display System, Common Processing System and Common Control System, according to Duarte.
Common UCMS functions are powered by CCS software architecture but program officials look to procure third-party software to support vehicle-specific operations, the report noted.