July 22, 2014

Beyond UCLASS: Preparing the Navy for Next Generation Warfare

By Michael Horowitz

The United States is the world’s leading military power in large part because it employs both the best military technologies in the world and the best-trained force to effectively use those technologies. Yet staying ahead is no easy task. Just as in the corporate world, the same ways of doing business that led to success in the past can, especially during periods of rapid technological change, place future superiority at risk.

Critical to maintaining the U.S. military’s advantage over the next few decades will be ensuring it has the organizational capital to fully take advantage of and integrate an emerging generation of technologies. An early test may be the U.S. Navy’s pending acquisition decision regarding a new carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike program (UCLASS).

Washington’s defense intelligentsia has spent the past year considering how the UCLASS system will evolve. Will the UCLASS be bat-shaped, stealthy, speedy, and packed with kinetic power — everything that the experimental X-47B UCAS-D suggested was possible? Alternatively, will it look more like a dragonfly — focused on an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions with limited strike, akin to existing medium-altitude long-endurance platforms operated by the Army and Air Force today? In recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the topic, experts drilled into the costs and benefits of the two approaches. Two of the witnesses, Sean Brimley and Bryan McGrath, also took their argument to War on the Rocks. The testimony suggested that the choice the Navy makes on UCLASS may influence the fate of the aircraft carrier in an age of anti-access technologies, and with it U.S. power projection.

Read the full op-ed at War on the Rocks.

  • Reports
    • September 28, 2021
    The Role of County Veteran Service Officers

    Executive Summary This assessment examines the role of county veteran service officers (CVSOs) throughout the United States. The report highlights the services and support ava...

    By Katherine L. Kuzminski, Nathalie Grogan & Elena LoRusso

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • September 23, 2021
    Don’t Ask Us to Serve

    Since the repeal of DADT, the lives of queer servicemembers have improved, but major challenges remain that threaten to undermine these gains and stall further progress....

    By Cody Kennedy

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • September 17, 2021
    Closing the Gaps Between Servicemembers and the American Public

    We have been a nation at war — sort of. Due to the longest wars in American history being shouldered by a tiny percentage of the population, the vital civil-military relations...

    By Nathalie Grogan

  • Video
    • September 8, 2021
    Afghanistan Veteran Says War Might be Over for U.S. but Not for Afghans

    Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow of the Military, Veterans, and Society program at the Center for a New American Security, and a military veteran deployed twice to Afgh...

    By Dr. Jason Dempsey

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia