NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — The Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) team was among the 10 groups to receive a NAVAIR Commander’s Award during a ceremony held June 17 at NAS Patuxent River.
Vice Adm. David Dunaway, NAVAIR commander, recognized the UCLASS team for executing preliminary design reviews (PDRs) on four separate industry designs to help expedite the delivery of the first-ever unmanned carrier-based air system.
“This was an incredible undertaking that required a commitment of significant resources for nine months but overall the number of employees dedicated to this review was far less due to the ebb and flow of personnel,” said Doug Trollinger, the UCLASS air segment lead who served as a technical point of contact for the PDR effort.
Prior to this review, NAVAIR had never conducted four simultaneous PDRs of an acquisition program of this size. The command enlisted the help of more than 600 subject matter experts to review and assess the PDR materials submitted for each contract. The total government labor cost to complete these four PDR assessments was $8.9 million, only a fraction compared to typical 15-18 month PDR efforts which costs $30-40 million.
This effort provided valuable insight into industry designs, notably in areas of technology maturity, depth of potential capabilities, integration of these capabilities and challenges to achieving these capabilities, Trollinger said. That insight is rarely achieved prior to source selection. Typically, a PDR is held after the program is already under contract with a single vendor.
“The full characterization of risk early and up front, helped inform decision making regarding the art of the possible, and the entire effort has served as strategic planning for the future,” he said.
“As the UCLASS program moves forward, the PDR effort will continue to be regarded as a seminal event in the development of the system,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) program manager. “The team advanced both government and industry understanding of the details of required capabilities of the UCLASS air vehicle segment, which will directly result in the delivery of a more effective, affordable, and interoperable unmanned carrier aviation capability to the fleet.”
UCLASS will be the first deployed carrier-based unmanned air system. It will provide persistent, unmanned carrier-based Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR &T) with precision strike capability to support 24/7 carrier operational coverage.
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