I believe they will move forward rapidly too.Yep.. those mates are heavy weights..Real heavy.
I betcha soon.. within 1 year to 18 months the Navy will ask for the funding to get the UCLASS program going full force.
And Northrop Grumman has the clear leg up. They already have a design that works and has shown the abaility to land and take off from the carrier, and me moved around on deck and parked in the hanger. She also has all of the weapons bay and unmanned flight capability down.
I bet we see Northrop Grumman awarded the contract, and then move forward with the first production aircraft within a couple of years. Heck, they have already done the prototype workups and trials for all intents and purposes.
My understanding is that they plan a squadron of like 6-8 aircraft per carrier to perform recon, surveillance, and limited strike. They will be controlled either from the ship or from some base on land, and will communicate either through sat link, or through the developing BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) network the Navy is developing through the use of P-8As, RQ-4B high-flying, high-endurance drones, and other sensors. They can also be controlled from a Superhornet and used as a force mulitplier for manned attack groups.
...and more pioneering and cutting edge breakthrough work by? You guessed it! by the absolute bestest, move-forwardingest, bad frickingest, most lethal, best trained, and jsut all-around world-wide force for good Navy in the world...THE US NAVY!