EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 1, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector an undefinitized contract modification worth up to $160 million to produce and demonstrate a minimum of two full-scale X-47B unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV).
The X-47Bs will demonstrate the technical and operational feasibility of using a UAV to conduct U.S. Navy missions from an aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman will also demonstrate how a UCAV can be used to satisfy U.S. Air Force mission requirements.
The award is a modification to the company's current Phase IIA UCAV agreement. It marks the beginning of Phase IIB of the Naval UCAV advanced technology effort. Over the next 90 days, Northrop Grumman will develop a detailed cost and development schedule for the program, which is expected to run through 2006.
"This award further strengthens Northrop Grumman's partnership with the Department of Defense in developing UAVs that can perform critical surveillance, suppression of enemy air defense and strike missions," said Randy Secor, Northrop Grumman's UCAV program manager. "Lessons learned from our successful X-47A Pegasus, Global Hawk and Fire Scout programs give us the experience to deliver and successfully integrate a high reliability UCAV solution for today's network-centric battlefield."
Under terms of the agreement, Northrop Grumman will adapt its current X-47B UCAV design to accommodate a consolidated set of Navy and Air Force science and technology objectives. The common objectives include a combat radius of 1,300 nautical miles with a payload of 4,500 pounds, and the ability to loiter for two hours over a target up to 1,000 nautical miles away. In addition to developing the air vehicle and its autonomous control system, the contract also calls for development of a UCAV mission control system.
According to Secor, Northrop Grumman laid the groundwork for a successful UCAV demonstrator program in February with the fully autonomous first flight of the company-funded X-47A Pegasus, a tailless, kite-shaped UAV. Conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif., the flight test demonstrated Pegasus' ability to approach a "carrier deck" on a flight path consistent with carrier operations and land within a few feet of a pre-designated spot. The company expects to leverage the UAV experience and systems development expertise of its Pegasus flight test team in refining its X-47B development plans, he added.
The focus of Phase IIB of the Naval UCAV program is to design, develop and integrate a UCAV demonstration system that can demonstrate the critical and enabling technologies, processes and system attributes (TPSA) relevant to operations on and around an aircraft carrier. These TPSAs include development of a robust air vehicle; shipboard integration; deck operations; carrier air space operations; command, control and communications suitable for a carrier environment; human-systems interface suitable for a carrier environment and reliable, repeatable catapult takeoff and arrested landing performance.
Northrop Grumman's Naval UCAV program is managed by Integrated Systems' Air Combat Systems business area. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise with the capabilities to design, develop, produce and support fully missionized integrated systems and subsystems. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services in support of chosen segments within the broad market areas of battlespace awareness, command and control systems and integrated combat systems.
CONTACT: Cynthia Curiel (858) 618-4355 firstname.lastname@example.org or Brooks McKinney (310) 331-6610 Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems