25 Oct 04. During AUSA Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) gave details of its proposal to use an upgraded version of the fourth-generation, in-production Heron medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the U.S. Army’s new Extended-Range/Multi-Purpose UAV System.
Known as Hunter II, the new UAV will provide corps commanders with persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, communications relay and a weapons capability that is fully compliant with the Army’s threshold requirements.
“Northrop Grumman’s Hunter II system combines the reliability and performance of proven, existing UAV systems with low-risk technology improvements to achieve a best-value solution for today’s and future soldiers,” said Nick Yorio, Northrop Grumman’s director of tactical intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. “To ensure its successful development and production, we’ve assembled a team that combines proven, world-class system engineering capabilities with low-cost air vehicle manufacturing and system integration centers in the United States. Together, we will deliver an affordable, supportable system that will interface seamlessly with the Army’s current and future infrastructure.”
The Hunter II system will couple the performance of the Heron MALE UAV with advanced technology subsystems and system architectures from other Northrop Grumman UAV programs and company investments. It builds on the successful legacy of the Northrop Grumman-developed RQ-5 Hunter UAV, the Army’s interim extended-range/multi-purpose system. The RQ-5 Hunter has logged more than 32,000 flight hours, 13,000 of which have been in combat operations in the Balkans and Iraq.
Under Northrop Grumman’s proposal, the company’s Integrated Systems sector will serve as the prime contractor for the extended-range/multi-purpose system integration and design. Integrated Systems will be supported by the company’s Electronic Systems sector, which will provide inertial navigation subsystems; the Mission Systems sector, which will provide Army C4I/IER and mission planning support; and the Space Technology sector, which will develop and integrate communications systems.
Other members of Northrop Grumman’s Hunter II team include: Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Va., which will provide vehicle design support and manufacture the air vehicles at its Starkville, Miss., facility; CAS Inc, Huntsville, Ala., which will provide client-based knowledge of weapons, integration, performance-based logistics, and engineering test and evaluation; and Cubic Defense Applications, San Diego, which will provide advanced interoperable data links.
Hunter II features advanced technology subsystems with redundant avionics and flight-control architecture, helping ensure high levels of autonomy, navigation accuracy and reliability. It also contains features that will make it easy for enlisted soldiers to operate and maintain it, including: an automatic take-off and landing subsystem; modern avionics used in the newest Hunter UAV model, the MQ-5B, and an interface to the Army’s tactical UAV infrastructure and ground-control system that is used by other Army UAV systems.
According to Bill McCall, Northrop Grumman’s ER/MP program director, the – Hunter II system has been designed with the enlisted soldier in mind.
“We’ve taken the best features from the MQ-5B Hunter, the RQ-5 Hunter and the Shadow ground system and married them with the next generation Hunter air vehicle, mission planning, C4I capability and interoperable data links,” he explained. “Hunter II will support land warfare across wide ranging climatic and threat environments. It will also provide land commanders with real-time, actionable intelligence. When combined with a planned weapons capability, this intelligence will help enable an integrated strike capability. By taking this building-block approach, we’ve produced a system that minimizes development costs, reduces support costs and u