WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy on Monday said it would delay a competition for a new carrier-based unmanned strike and surveillance plane until fiscal 2016 to allow completion of a comprehensive review of requirements.
Rear Admiral William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters during a budget briefing that the Navy had delayed its target for early operational use of the new unmanned planes until 2022 or 2023.
The Navy had hoped to kick off the competition for a new Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance Strike (UCLASS) program last fall, but delayed the release of a request for proposals given affordability concerns and a Pentagon-wide review of intelligence and surveillance programs.
Companies expected to compete for the program are Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the X-47B unmanned, unarmed plane that has already been tested on U.S. carriers, Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, and privately held General Atomics. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)