The U.S.Navy examining the possibility that the Stealth drones of Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program, designed for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), could be used to attack enemy planes. Image credit Lockheed Martin UCLASS.
In an interview with USNI News, director of air warfare Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, said:
“Maybe we put a whole bunch of AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) on it and that thing is the truck. So this unmanned truck goes downtown with—as far as it can go—with a decision-maker.”
In Manazir’s vision the UCLASS could be commanded remotely from a Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye or a Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter flight leader.
Air Force Reserve Col. Michael Pietrucha, a former F-15E weapons systems officer, said:
“This is not beyond the state-of-the-art. The difficulty is always that the aircraft it self has no judgment and no prioritization scheme and isn’t going to have the systems onboard to do all things that a fighter does.
The Navy is ahead of the Air Force on this.
If you solve that problem, then your missile caddy UCAV [unmanned combat air vehicle] wingman is a going concern. You can now target his missiles for him.”