Northrop to lead unmanned plane demo project

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.'s Integrated Systems will provide the Navy a technical demonstration of unmanned combat air systems under a new $635.8 million contract.

The Department of Navy awarded the contract. The demonstration will show whether the unmanned aerial vehicles are suitable for aircraft carriers. The effort, which is scheduled to conclude in 2013, will involve shipboard operation, including catapult takeoffs, arrested landings and flight in the immediate vicinity of an aircraft carrier.

The project is a milestone towards understanding and mastering autonomous and low-observable flight in the maritime environment, said Delores Etter, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.

The contract is for technology development and demonstration and will not be an operational system, said Navy Capt. Rich Brasel, program manager for the project.

Products for the effort are expected to include flight test data, test reports, trade studies, simulation and detailed engineering analyses to enable future developmental efforts.

Flight testing is scheduled to begin in late 2009 and culminate with carrier flight operations in 2013.

Northrop Grumman of Los Angeles ranks No. 3 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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