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15 Apr 03. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Integrated Systems sector unveiled its operational system concept for a naval unmanned combat air vehicle(UCAV-N) designed to fly surveillance, strike and suppression-of-enemy-air-defense missions from an aircraft carrier.

The concept represents Northrop Grumman’s participation in an emerging
government competition to develop and demonstrate UCAVs that could
perform U.S. Navy and Air Force missions.

The concept combines the “kite” aerodynamic shape successfully demonstrated by the company’s tailless X-47A Pegasus experimental unmanned vehicle with a “flying wing” shape. The kite design enables efficient integration of propulsion and weapons, while the wing extensions provide aerodynamic efficiency. The air vehicle design also provides long endurance, high survivability and the low-speed, aerodynamic flying qualities and precision landing capabilities required for autonomous launch and recovery operations from a carrier.

Northrop Grumman is currently conducting technology and
risk-reduction studies under Phase IIA of the UCAV-N program managed by
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Navy.

“This operational UCAV-N concept meets all naval UCAV requirements while leveraging the company’s unmatched experience in unmanned systems, precision strike, electronic warfare and low observable or stealth technologies,” said Randy Secor, Northrop Grumman’s UCAV-N program manager. “Our design also has the flexibility to meet Air Force requirements in the government’s emerging joint UCAV program.”

Northrop Grumman already has a wealth of data generated from the company-funded Pegasus program and from extensive wind tunnel testing of the UCAV operational concept air vehicle, he added.

The UCAV-N concept also builds on the company’s extensive experience with autonomous flight control, including thousands of flight hours by its combat-proven Global Hawk and Fire Scout unmanned systems. Secor noted that Global Hawk, Fire Scout and Pegasus all completed their first flights, from engine start to shutdown, without human intervention.

Work on the UCAV-N program is performed in El Segundo, Calif., within the Air Combat Systems business area of the company’s Integrated Systems sector.

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