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National Defense Magazine reports that “the Navy’s decision to switch its carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle program from an intelligence-gathering platform to a refueling aircraft will force contractors to resubmit their proposals and push the contract award to 2018, the Government Accountability Office said in a March 24 report.”  

“The change of plans will also reduce the overall development costs by $1 billion. The unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UCLASS) was to cost some $3 billion through fiscal year 2022.The redubbed carrier based refueling system (CBARS) will cost $2 billion through 2021, the report said.”  

“The fundamental debate over the UCLASS’ role caused initial delays, the report said. Discussions within the Defense Department centered around whether the drone would be mostly a strike platform capable of penetrating robust air defenses with some intelligence-gathering capabilities, or primarily a sensor platform. The indecision pushed back the expected contract award date from 2014 to 2017, the report said.”

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