UCAVs on Aircraft Carriers–Why Bother?
Here is a scenario produced by Northrop Grumman that demonstrates the thinking behind the Navy-UCAS program:
An aggressive regional power with robust integrated air defenses, ballistic/cruise missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical WMD capabilities, has attacked a U.S. ally. Offshore, a Navy carrier strike group prosecutes enemy submarine and surface forces. Nearby countries refuse basing rights to U.S. forces and the closest secure bases are thousands of miles distant.
From the first hours of the conflict, ultra-long-endurance Navy UCASs hold the entire battlespace perpetually at risk, identifying emergent targets and denying the enemy the sanctuary of strategic depth.
Networking with other joint sensors and shooters, Navy UCAS assets detect, track and identify enemy air defenses, surface and submarine forces, missile launchers, C2 nodes and WMD sites. Joint commanders assign them to persistently orbiting unmanned aerial systems. The Navy UCAS’s flexible payload enables battle managers to match the right weapon to each target, while its onboard sensors update the targeting picture through weapon release and damage assessment.
The Navy UCAS attacks enemy anti-access systems opening the door for the safe and timely deployment of the follow-on Marine, Army and Air Force and coalition forces for swift and decisive defeat of the enemy.