Based on the Defense Department’s budget proposal for 2017, there is no leeway for the on-again, off-again program that dates all the way back to the late 1990s, with the sole aim of rolling out a bomb-hauling robotic jet that can be launched from, and also safely land, on the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers.
Also known as Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS), the Defense Department’s 2017 budget proposal revealed that there will be not a single dollar being set aside for it, contrasted with $818 million in funding received in 2015 and 2016. Rather, there will be $89 allocated for a “Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System.”
It does make one wonder, though, will other programs like the ATLAS robot also see it get scrapped, or perhaps its successor down the road? One thing’s for sure, eagles won’t be a good substitute for military-class offensive drones, even if our feathered friends hail from the fantasy realm of J.R.R. Tolkien.