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.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) reported progress in arming the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV, which will be the Navy’s first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. The command said its structures rotary-wing division and the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout team are “working briskly” at Webster Field Annex in Patuxent River, Md., to support an urgent operational needs request from Naval Forces Central Command.
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.
U.S. Air Force leadership has defended the decision to halt acquisition and current operations of the Global Hawk Block 30 UAV, in favor of retaining the manned Lockheed Martin U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) said it has demonstrated an early prototype of its “due regard” radar for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on a manned surrogate aircraft, joining other efforts to develop airborne “sense-and-avoid” systems that could help introduce UAS into unrestricted airspace.
With a recent contract award from Northrop Grumman to provide electronic support measures (ESM) on the B-2 Spirit bomber, BAE Systems will be providing electronic warfare systems on all three U.S. Air Force low-observable platforms, including the F-22 and F-35 fighters, according to the company. The new ESM system will replace the original Lockheed Martin AN/APR-50 defensive management system on the 20 B-2s. The ESM system works in conjunction with the radar warning receiver to detect and alert aircrew to electronic threats.
Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are developing new systems and concepts for close air support using an unmanned version of the twin-engine A-10 Thunderbolt II. The companies received contracts worth $7 million each in April 2011 under phase one of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program.
Still stunned by the Pentagon’s scrapping of the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk Block 30 program, Northrop Grumman said here at the show yesterday that it’s too early to determine whether the decision will impact the cost of other Pentagon UAV programs based on the big-winged jet. The Block 20 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), the Block 40 Multi-Platform Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) and the U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programs were all unaffected by the decision.
The U.S. government is revamping its export control regime for military-related products, a systemic reform long sought by the nation’s aerospace industry. The reform could facilitate prospective deals being pursued by U.S. companies here in the Asia Pacific region and other parts of the world.
The issue of military exports pits advocates of weapons nonproliferation against those who argue that the U.S. must remain economically competitive with other nations. But there is wide acknowledgment that the existing system of vetting products and technologies for export is deficient.
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.