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Northrop Grumman To Develop Persistent Surveillance Payload For UAVs

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by Staff Writers
Linthicum MD (SPX) Jul 29, 2008
Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Office of Naval Research to develop and demonstrate a signals intelligence (SIGINT) payload for use on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under the Warfighter's Tactical SIGINT Resource (WTSR) program.

"In today's battlespace environment, persistent surveillance is key," said Fred Bean, WTSR program manager.

"Tactical units must rapidly and reliably use sensor networks to track potential targets; collect, send and receive actionable intelligence; and automatically receive warning of impending dangers. The WTSR program is aimed at providing expeditionary forces with that kind of enhanced battlespace awareness. We look forward to providing our expeditionary fighting forces with the right data and the right amount data at the right time.

"Tactical units at the lowest echelon currently receive little to no intelligence of value because they have very few -- if any -- ISR assets under their direct control. The WTSR program will help to overcome that problem as well as a number of other key limitations associated with conventional sensor technology," he said.

The Navy's objective is to provide small unit tactical forces with the sensing and tracking capabilities needed to conduct warfare against an asymmetric threat.

The program focuses on developing significant technological advances in three key areas: sensors; tags and taggants; and network communications that integrate unmanned vehicles and unattended ground sensors into the net-centric battlefield.

Under the three-year, $5.2 million contract, Northrop Grumman will first develop a low-cost, lightweight, plug-and-play SIGINT sensor package that requires minimal power. The sensor will be equipped with flight-tunable receivers that enable rapid re-tasking of the SIGINT payload during flight operations.

Once developed, Northrop Grumman will conduct a Tier II/Class II tactical UAV flight demonstration of the SIGINT payload at an operational altitude of 3,000 feet.

The WTSR contract was awarded by the Office of Naval Research's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department as part of the FORCEnet Science and Technology - GWOT Focused Tactical Persistent Surveillance program.

Northrop Grumman will lead the effort from its Ft. Wayne, Ind. facility and is teamed with Swift Engineering, Inc., San Clemente, Calif. Other Northrop Grumman work on the program will be accomplished in Sacramento, Calif., and in Cincinnati.

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