Boeing has received an eight-month study contract from the US Navy unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) programme.

Under the contract, the company will support pre-milestone activities including development of a concept of operations, an analysis of alternatives, and an investigation of potential material solutions for the programme.

The UCLASS system will consist of an air segment, a connectivity and control segment, a carrier vessel-nuclear (CVN) segment (launch and recovery), and a systems support segment.

The study will conceptually demonstrate that the system can provide a persistent CVN-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and strike capability supporting carrier air wing operations.

The navy has plans to deploy the unmanned surveillance and strike system in its fleet within the 2018 time frame.