A bit of a twist on the usual relationship between USAF and Navy, when it comes to UASs:
The Air Force’s effort to field a brand new tactical drone, known as MQ-X has effectively been cancelled the service’s top intelligence officer said today.
“At this point we do not see a need, or we don’t plane, in the near term, to invest in any sort of MQ-X like program,” said Lt. Gen Larry James today during an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Arlington,Va. “Given the requirement set, given what’s going on [in the world] out there with the Reaper fleet, that we can upgrade those as we need to, to meet the demand signals, to meet the requirements that are going to be out there in the future.”
Rather than develop a brand new set of tactical drones, the service will upgrade its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and will closely watch the Navy’s effort to field a steathly, jet-powered combat drone later this decade under the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program with an eye toward adopting that type of technology if the Air Force likes what it sees.
“The Navy is developing some capability in the [UAV] domain, we want to see how that play out before we make any decisions on any next-generation platform capability,” said James during an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Arlington,Va. “So as I said, in the near term, right now, there is no intent to pursue that MQ-X program.”
Navy has, over the course of at least the last few decades, been mostly content to let the junior service wring the risk out of new technologies. With UCLASS and Firescout, the Blue/Green team is going where the USAF hasn’t been.
I have to wonder if they know something we don’t know.