The US Navy is looking for sea-based unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to the chief of naval operations.

Admiral Gary Roughead, addressing the AUVSI North America unmanned systems exhibition, said the navy’s slow progress on fielding UAVs was due to the challenges faced in operating them with the ships’ complex network of radiating antennas.

“For us in the navy it’s a very complex environment to bring an airplane dependent on control networks into a pretty extensive electromagnetic environment like we have on our carriers and even beyond our carriers,” he said.

The US Navy has plans to acquire a persistent sea-based vertical take-off and landing UAV and a stealthy, unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system. It is also developing a maritime version of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The navy also plans to replace the MQ-1 Predator / MQ-9 Reaper fleet with an aircraft that can survive in contested airspace, according to Flight International.