Northrop Grumman joins Sand Dragon unmanned aircraft program to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 14 Aug. 2011. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designers at Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems sector in San Diego are joining the U.S. Air Force Sand Dragon UAV program to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other roadside bombs.

Northrop Grumman won a $26.2 million contract Friday for the Air Force Sand Dragon B program to develop and deploy a UAV with counter-IED capability. Apparently Northrop Grumman is joining the Chandler May Inc. AME Unmanned Air Systems segment in San Luis Obispo, Calif., which since early 2010 has been working on the Air Force's Sand Dragon medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for route surveillance on missions as long as 24 hours.

Awarding the contract Friday to Northrop Grumman were officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio -- the same organization providing funding to Chandler May's AME Unmanned Air Systems of $16.4 million in 2010 and $2.14 million this year for the Sand Dragon UAV program.

Friday's Air Force contract announcement does not make clear the extent of the work that Northrop Grumman will do on the Sand Dragon B development effort.

Chandler May AME is providing the company's Fury B catapult-launched UAV for the Sand Dragon program, which can operate independently of prepared runways on missions lasting as long as 24 hours. The Chandler May AME San Dragon UAV will be fitted with a dual-band radar and electro-optical sensor to help detect and locate IED threats.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems online at www.as.northropgrumman.com, the Air Force Research Laboratory at www.wpafb.af.mil/AFRL, or Chandler May AME Unmanned Air Systems at www.chandlermay.com/unmanned_air_systems.html.

Related stories

-- AeroMech team to build Sand Dragon route-surveillance UAV that runs on heavy fuels;

-- AeroMech Fury 1500 runway-independent, long-endurance UAV gets ready for duty after first flight; and

-- SELEX Galileo's Falco UAV carries multiple payload, PicoSAR AESA radar, and electro-optics.

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