Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles UCAV

Navy UCAV Concepts Continue To Define Missions and Capabilities

Source: Lockheed Martin

October 2, 1998

FORT WORTH, TX - The following descriptions describe two potential scenarios (pictured) for the Lockheed Martin concepts for U.S. Navy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles.

Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems has recently completed a study for the United States Navy with the objective to create conceptual aircraft designs for three different types of naval UCAVs. Two were to operate from surface combatant vessels, such as amphibious assault ships and destroyers, while the third was to be launched from submarines. Lockheed Martin further developed the sub-launched UCAV design concept to include a unique recovery and relaunch system concept. Such a system would enable the submarine to have a sustained firepower capability. The contracted study also addressed the key technologies that would be required, in addition to the launch and recovery feasibilities.

Two stealthy, sub-launched UCAVs return from a strike mission. They are approaching their splashdown rendezvous point with a converted Trident submarine. The sub would have the capability to recover the UCAVs while remaining underwater. The UCAVs could then be re-armed and refueled inside the submarine, and made ready for launch on another mission. The UCAVs are launched from the [modified] ballistic missile launch tubes with rocket boosters, much like a Tomahawk cruise missile. A Trident submarine has 24 launch tubes available. At least four Tridents are to be retired from service in accordance with the START2 nuclear weapons treaty.

A pair of low-observable, sub-launched UCAVs release GPS-aided Small Smart Bombs on target coordinates that have been transmitted from Forward Air Controllers on the ground via "Sure Strike." The Sure Strike system was developed and patented by Lockheed Martin, and is operational with U.S. Air Force units deployed to support operations in Bosnia. Currently this streamlined CAS targeting and digital communication system is interoperable with F-16 units based at Aviano, Italy.

Extending Sure Strike to be interoperable with other manned and future unmanned combat aircraft could be readily accomplished. The combination of this type of system with GPS-aided weaponry would allow many different types of combat aircraft to effectively attack targets from higher altitudes and in all-weather conditions. This capability would be ideal in a Close Air Support or Special Operations mission environment, and could significantly help to reduce potential UCAV costs by not requiring the aircraft to carry sensors for these types of mission.

The sub-launched UCAVs shown are concepts that were developed under a recently completed study contract for the United States Navy, that was funded through NAVAIR. The study was for the development of three different naval UCAV concepts: a deck-launched STOVL concept, a vertical attitude VATOL concept, and a submarine-launched UCAV concept. Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems further-developed the third UCAV type to include an innovative recovery and relaunch system concept for the Trident submarine. Such a system would enable the submarine to have a substantial conventional firepower capability for sustained operations.

As the home of The Fighter Enterprise for Lockheed Martin, Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems is the lead for the corporationís UCAV programs. Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems currently builds the F-16, the worldís most sought-after combat aircraft with more than 3,800 delivered to date to air forces in 19 countries. Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems also produces one-third of the F-22 and is the lead company in Lockheed Martinís Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) development program. The company also participates in production of Japanís F-2 fighter and is working with Korean industry on the KTX-2 supersonic trainer project.

Contact: Kathryn Hayden
(817) 763-4084

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