DARPA Asks Northrop Grumman to Build Second TERN Prototype UAV for Small Surface Ships

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August 29, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: August 29 on

Unmanned aircraft designers at Northrop Grumman Corp. are moving forward with a project to develop a prototype medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) and shipboard launch and recovery system to enable the UAV to fly from relatively small surface ships like destroyers, frigates, and even freighters. Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., announced $17.8 million contract modification Friday to the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems segment in Redondo Beach, Calif., for phase-3 work on the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) program. The DARPA TERN program seeks to overcome limitations of Navy shipboard aircraft surveillance. Helicopters are relatively limited in their maximum distances and flight times, for example, while fixed-wing manned and unmanned aircraft must operate from aircraft carriers or large land bases with long runways, although they can fly farther and longer than helicopters.

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