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The UCAV Sentinel is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) designed for aircraft carrier-based operations. Developed by the Osean defense technology company Wernher and Noah Enterprises, the UCAV Sentinel project began as part of Osea's J-UCAS program, and subsequently became part of the Osean Defense Force's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The UCAV Sentinel is a tailless jet-powered blended-wing-body aircraft capable of semi-autonomous operation and aerial refueling.

The UCAV Sentinel first flew in 2011, and as of 2013, its two active demonstrators have undergone extensive flight and operational integration testing, having successfully performed a series of land- and carrier-based demonstrations. In August 2012, the OMDF announced that it had integrated the UCAV Sentinel into carrier operations alongside manned aircraft, and by May 2013 the primary test program was declared complete. The UCAV Sentinel demonstrators themselves were intended to become museum exhibits after completing flight testing, but the OMDF later decided to maintain them in flying condition pending further development.

Development

Origins

The OMDF did not commit to practical UCAS efforts until 2000, when it awarded contracts of 2 million zollars each to Wernher and Noah Enterprises and Northrop Grumman for a 15-month concept-exploration program. Design considerations for a naval UCAV included dealing with the corrosive saltwater environment, deck handling for launch and recovery, command and control system integration, and operation in an aircraft carrier's high-electromagnetic-interference environment. The OMDF was interested in using UCAVs for reconnaissance, to penetrate protected airspace and identify targets for follow-on attacks.

Northrop Grumman's proof-of-concept Northrop Grumman X-47B, which provided the basis for the UCAV Sentinel and MQ-101, first flew in 2003. The J-UCAS program was terminated in February 2006 following the Quadrennial Defense Review. The OADF and OMDF proceeded with their own UAV programs. The Navy selected Northrop Grumman's X-47B and the UCAV Sentinel as its unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) program and the MQ-101 for the OADF witch can be launched from land or Arsenal Birds. To provide realistic testing, the demonstrator was built to be the same size and weight as the projected operational craft, with a full-sized weapons bay capable of carrying existing missiles.

Design

The Sentinel is a tailless, jet-powered stealth drone that uses a blended-wing-body airframe like the X-47B and the MQ-101. It is designed primarily to be used for both ground attack and close air support roles.

An integrated laser designator is also available and can be used for self-designation. By taking manual control of the Sentinel, they can guide the drone's own laser guided bombs or mark targets for friendly forces. Should the Sentinel become immobilised or find itself trapped after a poor landing/take-off, heavy-lift helicopters can slingload the drone to a better position or to a nearby logistical vehicle.

Features

The Sentinel is currently the largest and the second fastest and agile UCAV only after the MQ-101. While not nearly as agile as the MQ-101, it's stealthed against radars and can attack hard targets protected behind heavy anti-air defences like its brother.

It has a tailhook to assist in performing carrier take-offs and landings, and can also have its wings folded to allow for easier storage and transportation aboard carriers.

Notable Traits

Having the smallest RCS signature, the Sentinel is the stealthiest fixed-wing aircraft that can safely fly through even the thickest radar networks or without being seen (electronically).

While it cannot be outfitted with as many HARMs as the MQ-101, the Sentinel is on-par in terms of being a deadly SEAD threat to SAM batteries. So as long as the Sentinel has its radar toggled off, it can spot any radar site that activates, fire off a HARM in its direction, and then quickly relocate elsewhere without being spotted even once.

Drawbacks

The Sentinel's only real downside is its lack of variety when it comes to onboard munitions, which makes it far less useful for CAS purposes unlike the MQ-9 Reaper (the latter is capable of carrying air-to-air missiles as well as AGMs and GPBs).

Armaments

Guns:

  • 2x 25mm gatling gun

Standard Missiles:

  • STDM (AIM-9 Sidewinder)

Air-to-Air Weapons:

  • SAAM (AIM-7 Sparrow)
  • HVAA (AIM-7 Sparrow)
  • HCAA (AIM-120 AMRAAM)
  • SASM (AIM-132 ASRAAM)
  • HPAA (AIM-9X Sidewinder)
  • QAAM (AIM-9X Sidewinder)
  • LAAM (AIM-260 JATM)
  • XMAA (AIM-120 AMRAAM)
  • 4AAM (AIM-120 AMRAAM)
  • 6AAM (AIM-120 AMRAAM)
  • XLAA (AIM-120D AMRAAM)

Air-to-Ground Weapons:

  • SOD (AGM-154 JSOW)
  • GPB (GBU-16 Paveway II)
  • UGBS (Mk.81 Firecracker)
  • UGBM (Mk.82 Snakeye)
  • UGBL (Mk.84 Bomb)
  • LASM (AGM-84 Harpoon)
  • LAGM (AGM-88 HARM)
  • XSDB (GBU-53/B Stormbreaker)
  • SFFS (CBU-87)
  • 4AGM (AGM-65 Maverick)
  • 8AGM (SPEAR 3)
  • LACM (AGM-158 JASSM)

Multi-Purpose Weapons:

  • RGP (GPU-5/A)
  • MGP (GPU-5/A)
  • HGP (GPU-5/A)
  • MPM
  • ODMM
  • MSTM (AIM-9 Sidewinder)
  • PLSL (PS-5 PLSL)

Flares:

  • 4x Flares

Skins

  1. Dark "Grey Ghost" livery.
  2. Forest digital camouflage.
  3. Light grey with dark grey tiger stripes, YF-23 Special skin.
  4. Light/dark tan and mud brown digital camouflage.
  5. Grey drab.
  6. Two-tone dark grey/ghost grey paint scheme base on the F-22A Raptor.
  7. Digital camouflage pattern.
  8. Light/dark grey digital camouflage.

Gallery

Trivia

  • The Sentinel is based on the Northrop Grumman X-47B which was developed by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy's now-cancelled Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programme.
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