UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS
RQ-12A WASP IV
RQ- 20 PUMA AE
BRIEFING: (See the Marine Corps ISR section for descriptions
of these UASs.)
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 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.
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. When
modified with a 1-foot synthetic aperture radar, the RQ-23A
is known as the Copperhead. The Tiger Shark deployed to
Afghanistan in 2005 with 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 Operations Command.
CONTRACTORS: . . . . . . . . . Naval Air Warfare Center, NAVMAR Applied
Sciences, L- 3 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 the demonstration. Following the movement of two X-47B
air vehicles to NAS Patuxent River, the team began the carrier
suitability flight test regimen, focusing on various carrier-
relevant software validation and ground tests, including taxi
events and electromagnetic 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. Potential follow-on activities are being considered.
CON TRAC TOR: . . . . . . . . . . Northrop Grumman Corp.
BRIEFING: The MQ-25A evolved from the former RAQ-25A
Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike
System program, and is the next step in the Navy’s evolution
integration of unmanned air systems into the carrier strike
group operational environment. The MQ-25A will be integral
to the Carrier Air Wing and provide organic aerial refueling for
the carrier air wing and support other roles such as surveillance. The Navy plans to field the MQ-25A in the mid-2020s.
BRIEFING: The RQ-26A Aerostar is a multimission tactical
UAV test bed for payloads.
CON TRAC TOR: . . . . . . . . . . AeroNautics Defense Systems
BRIEFING: The Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node
(TERN) program of the Office of Naval Research and DARPA to
develop and demonstrate a vertical-launch, medium-altitude
long-endurance UAV — capable of a 600-pound payload —
and associated launch and recovery system for surface ships.
Northrop Grumman was selected in January 2016 for the project.
CON TRAC TOR: . . . . . . . . . . Northrop Grumman
X-47B UNMANNED COMBAT AIR SYSTEM-DEMONSTRATION