The Navy’s timeframe for fielding its unmanned aircraft designed to operate off of carriers remains on track for 2018, according to the service’s director for air warfare.

“Our intent with UCALSS is to have some capability on there in 2018–get it onto the aircraft carrier,” Rear Adm. Kenneth Floyd told a gathering hosted by the National Aeronautic Association yesterday.

UCLASS, or the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike aircraft, is conceptualized as the Navy’s key carrier launched air vehicle for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities. It is being developed in parallel the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D), which has already taken flight.

The Navy last summer issued four separate research and development contracts to Boeing [BA], General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] under the UCLASS program.

The UCLASS program has faced some resistance in Congress, which has moved to limit funding until the Navy better defines the aircraft’s mission and capability objectives.