Northrop Grumman received a contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) to build the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter based on the Bell 407 airframe. The contract, announced April 23, has a not-to-exceed cost ceiling of $262 million for two demonstration and six production MQ-8Cs.
Northrop Grumman has gained a large new contract from the U.S. Air Force to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) system for fixed-wing platforms. In February it was one of two contractors the Army selected to demonstrate a next-generation common infrared countermeasures (CIRCM) system for helicopters and other aircraft, although a bid protest has stalled that program.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have teamed to offer a pod-mounted radar surveillance system that can easily be fitted to transport aircraft or medium-sized helicopters. The Vigilance system is being marketed as a viable alternative to expensive, role-dedicated airborne platforms. It also offers maritime and overland reconnaissance options, thanks to the versatility of modern AESA radar technology.
Northrop Grumman is hoping that funds to re-engine the first two operational E-8C JSTARS radar surveillance aircraft will be provided in the Fiscal 2013 budget next year. The test bed aircraft is now flying with JT8D-219 engines that Northrop Grumman has modified with a new pneumatic system that it claims “vastly improves reliability and the hardware’s life cycle.” Although the JT8D is hardly new technology, the 17 operational E-8Cs are powered by even older JT3Ds. A $1.7 billion program to replace them was started some years ago, and the test bed first flew with JT8Ds in December 2008.
Companies are lining up for the U.S. Navy’s medium-range, maritime unmanned aerial system (MRMUAS) requirement, a planned follow-on to the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
The U.S. Navy awarded a development contract to Northrop Grumman to upgrade the AN/AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared countermeasures (Laircm) system on CH-53D/E and CH-46E helicopters with a multifunction advanced warning sensor (ATW).
The Orion Air Group upped its profile by displaying a Gulfstream IISP modified as an R&D testbed at the Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, UK, in mid-July. The privately held U.S.-based group was founded about three years ago, and generated nearly $200 million in 2010 from special mission and corporate aircraft services. The latter are marketed under the Tempus Jets name.
Northrop Grumman announced the first carrier landing of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, on the USS Harry S. Truman. In addition, the Pentagon has now authorized an additional 10 aircraft, following a successful Defense Acquisition Board review.
A Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (surveillance target attack radar system) aircraft has been fitted with an advanced imaging sensor for the first time.
Remotely controlled helicopters could be delivering cargo to U.S. Marines in Afghanistan by this time next year. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NASC) gave the go-ahead for urgent development of competing proposals from Boeing/Frontier Systems (using the A160T Hummingbird) and Lockheed Martin (based on the Kaman K-Max).
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