The Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Program Office has a new program manager. Capt. Beau Duarte succeeds Capt. Jaime Engdahl has as head of the high-profile program for combat UAVs.
Engdahl is moving on to become program manager for Naval Air System Command’s Precision Strike Weapons Program Office. Duarte previously served as NAVAIR’s deputy program manager for Spectrum Dominance for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office. But he is no stranger to UAVs.
“Fourteen years ago this month, at the then-Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron now known as VX-23, I replaced Lt. Engdahl as UAV Project Officer developing aircraft and technologies for the Navy’s nascent unmanned fleet,” Duarte said in a NAVAIR news release. “At that time, our flight test workhorse was the BQM-147A Exdrone, a 90-pound fiberglass propeller-driven flying wing with a six foot wingspan and a two-stroke gas motor outputting out a whopping 9 horsepower. Contrast that with today’s workhorse at VX-23 sitting behind you, the 40,000-pound turbojet powered X-47, which, if you hadn’t heard, recently made aviation history by taking off and landing at the carrier — a laughably unthinkable task 14 years ago.”
The UCAS program office is also expanding, with the addition of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike System Advanced Developmental Program Office.