The Carrier-Launched Predator C

You see a ton of animated pics of a UAV that looks just like Northrop’s X-47B carrier-launched stealth drone operating off of U.S. carriers of the 21st Century but this pic from General Atomics serves as a reminder that Northrop isn’t the only company vying to build the sea service’s first combat ready, carrier-launched attack drone.

This image from GA’s booth at the Surface Navy Association’s annual convention last week just outside Washington shows one of the company’s Predator C Avenger drones (or should I say Sea Avenger) getting ready to be launched from the USS Gerald R Ford’s bow by a GA-built electromagnetic catapult.

The Sea Avenger is one of four programs in the mix to build the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) drone. Other entries are Northrop, whose X-47B is gearing up to fly from an aircraft carrier, Lockheed Martin, who makes the Air Force’s RQ-170 and Boeing who makes the stealthy Phantom Ray drone.

10 Comments on "The Carrier-Launched Predator C"

  1. If the comms drop or are hacked on the UAV side, it just doesn't matter where (geographically) the remote pilot resides. For that reason, effort is spent on securing the comms and adding redundancy into the navs (supplement GPS with inertial nav and fail-safe RTB).

  2. I mentioned elsewhere on this site my thoughts about how the Royal Navy could achieve more “bang for the buck” flying drones off a handful of HMS Ocean-style light carriers than they could with the two supercarriers. Thinking it through, it seems logical that that’s going to be the future for a lot of medium sized militaries. Light carriers built cheaply to a commercial standard and drones. If a major company can come up with a small, stealthy, high performance and long endurance drone that can fly off a light carrier, you can bet that variations on that aircraft will be in use for the next 50 years around the globe…

  3. We should make sure the Iranians will not bring this down to their surface.

  4. Seems as though sometime last year I saw a video/simulation with the Sea Avenger deployed along with F-35C's over on Stephen Trimble's blog. The odd thing about it was that the timeline was 2014?-2015? or somewhere close. Talk about controlling a swarm or even a couple of drones from a 2-seat F-35C seems a bit premature, to say the least, given the impending (probably major) problem with the tailhook situation. Couldn't a F-18F do the same thing or does it lack the link-capability?

  5. Forget about Hornets Tomcats and Predator drones How about we get some new carriers need them to launch planes and drones anyway and since they are retiring possibly 5 carriers this decade why spend money and new ships then.

  6. Bleh. I hope the go for the X-47. I’m a sucker for flying wing designs.

  7. Have these ‘data links’ between uav’s and its operators been tested to prevent it from being jammed or can it be jammed? If it were up to me, I would secure the connection with some type of crypto and incorporate something like what HQ or SINGCARS uses and frequency hop.

  8. Also be aware that with UAVs becoming more autonomous, there may be no need for a uplink (command channel) to the aircraft. Without a command signal going TO the aircraft (indeed, you could set the aircraft to shut off it's receiving command antennas) there wouldn't be signal to hi-jack.

    To the argument that GPS signals could (and can) be jammed, bombing can still be done very accurately based off inertial navigation systems (INS).

  9. here's my solution for Navy UAVs

    – build carriers out of converted oil tankers: put a deck on them with a ski jump or some catapults (but that's more complicated), and plenty of room below to store them (and missiles and troops and what not)

    you could argument that these ships would be less safe then if built to military standard, except the new RN super-carriers are being built to civlian standards to save money, so that's no argument

    – design a STOVL tailsitter UCAV, jet engine or prop design, similar to the Convair XFY-1 Pogo or the Ryan X-13. it can take off conventially, and then land on its tail. any modern jet has enough power to hang in the air, so certainly they'll be able to descend slowly

  10. They can program in the mission to the UCAVS just like they program target info into tomahawk cruise missles.
    The plane fly's out and does the programed mission and fly's back.

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