UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS
BRIEFING: (See the Marine Corps ISR section for a description of the RQ-21A UAV.)
RQ-23A TIGER SHARK/COPPERHEAD
BRIEFING: The Tiger Shark is a twin-tailed UAV with electro-optical and infrared sensors, synthetic-aperture radar, signals
intelligence receiver, and a communications jammer. The Tiger
Shark was developed by the Navy’s Special Surveillance Systems
program and NAVMAR Applied Sciences, and manufactured by
BAI, a company bought by L3 Systems that completed the production run of 68 Tiger Sharks. In October 2012, the Navy
ordered 21 more Tiger Sharks from NAVMAR, with an option
for 30 more. An order for 42 more followed in February 2014.
When modified with a 1-foot synthetic aperture radar, the
RQ-23A is known as the Copperhead.
The Tiger Shark has been used operationally by U.S. Special
Operations Command, the Joint IED Defeat Organization and
the Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office. The
Tiger Shark has been deployed to Afghanistan since 2005 by
contractor teams led by Navy Reserve officers. The UAV has
been used for convoy escort, pre-raid and raid support, ISR and
improvised explosive device reconnaissance. The Tiger Shark
replaced the Mako UAV — built by NAVMAR — in the Special
CONTRACTORS:.........Naval Air Warfare Center, NAVMAR Applied
Sciences, L- 3 Systems
BRIEFING: The RQ-26A Aerostar is a multi-mission tactical
UAV test bed for payloads.
CONTRACTOR: ...........AeroNautics Defense Systems
X-47B UNMANNED COMBAT AIR
BRIEFING: As a result of the February 2005 Quadrennial Defense
Review, DoD officials restructured the Joint Unmanned Combat
Air System, which was developing unmanned combat aircraft for
the Air Force and Navy, and funded a new Navy UCAS-D program
in its place. The primary objective was to reduce the risk for carrier integration of UCAS, maturing critical technologies to achieve
the appropriate technology readiness level to support a decision to
begin a major Navy acquisition program.
The UCAS-D encompasses the design, development, integration
and demonstration of a carrier-suitable, relevant UCAS. In 2008,
Program Decision Memorandum II directed the Navy to demonstrate probe and drogue (Navy) and boom/receptacle (Air Force)
autonomous aerial refueling as part of the UCAS-D program.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B was selected in August 2007 for
Following the movement of the two X-47B air vehicles to
NAS Patuxent River, the team began the carrier suitability flight
test regimen, focusing on various carrier-relevant software vali-
dation and ground tests, including taxi events and electromag-
netic vulnerability testing. The team also conducted the first
high-fidelity control of a UAV by a digital, wireless, handheld
Control and Display Unit, which was used to maneuver the X-
47B on the carrier flight deck.
In July 2012, X-47B Air Vehicle 2 (AV- 2) flew the first X-47B
sortie from Patuxent River. In late November 2012, AV- 1 was
loaded aboard USS Harry S. Truman for flight-deck trials. In May
2013, AV- 2 conducted its first carrier catapult launch and the
touch-and-go landings on USS George H. W. Bush. In July 2013,
AV- 2 conducted the first carrier arrested landing of a U.S.-manufactured UAV.
The Navy decided in mid-2014 to continue the X-47B as a
platform for technology development and for aerial refueling
trials. The X-47B also operated from USS Theodore Roosevelt in
2014 in concert with other carrier aircraft. On April 22, 2015,
AV- 2 conducted Navy drogue-style aerial refueling with a K-707
tanker. Subsequently, the Navy decided to maintain the X-47B
air vehicles in a standby status while examining a range of
potential follow-on activities.
CONTRACTOR: ...........Northrop Grumman Corp.
RAQ-25A UNMANNED CARRIER-LAUNCHED AIRBORNE SURVEILLANCE
AND STRIKE SYSTEM (UCLASS)
BRIEFING: UCLASS is the next step in the Navy’s evolution
integration of unmanned air systems into the Carrier Strike
Group operational environment. UCLASS will be integral to
the Carrier Air Wing and will provide persistent, unmanned,
carrier-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and
targeting with precision strike capability to support 24/7 carrier operational coverage. The Navy plans to field an early
operational capability of the UCLASS system in the early to
X-47B UNMANNED COMBAT AIR SYSTEM-DEMONSTRATION
DURING FIRST REFUELING FLIGHT