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The Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System (UMCS) was tested for the first time to evaluate its software compatibility, data communication abilities, and electro-optical camera, for future use in refueling and reconnaissance operations.

Ultimately, the ability to control UAVs from carriers will allow UAVs to become reliable and durable refuelers for the Navy’s strike fighters, said the NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) press release, extending mission distances and durations and giving aircraft carriers a wider force extension. The UAVs could also provide valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data that is more relevant to the specific needs of the aircraft carrier.

NAVAIR stated that the evaluation focused specifically on the ability of the UMC system hardware and software to integrate and communicate with the aircraft carrier’s network.

According to defensesystems.com, the hardware of the UMCS consists of an improved and adapted version of the Navy Sea Systems Command’s Common Display System and the Common Processing System that is used by the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), the Navy’s newest warship.

In terms of software, the UMCS uses a version of the Navy’s Common Control System (CCS). The CCS software has a unique architecture that allows user interfaces and other components within a common framework to be specifically adapted for integration with unmanned systems.

The UMCS software and hardware systems were tested using a Mobile Aviation Interoperability Lab (MAIL) truck imitating an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to exercise the command and control feasibility of the UMCS.

The test also evaluated the strength of the connection between the operator and the UAV, and its ability to have multiple communication signals emanating from a single source, according to industry developers.

Another focus of the test was the data sharing capacity of the UMCS, which meant testing the compatibility of the Automatic Identification System, a collision avoidance technology, and Electro-optical/infrared camera with the data communication UMCS software. Data sharing evaluations also looked at the system’s ability to process real-time mission adjustments and re-planning.

This UMCS test marks the start of an annual evaluation and demonstration schedule as improvements are made to the system. The next step will be using the UMCS to operate smaller unmanned aerial systems and future developments will include the integration of a flight and cyber security approval mechanism.