BY JOHN KELLER
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md.-Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designers at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems sector in Bethpage, N.Y., will enable the U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV to autonomously sense and avoid other nearby aircraft to maintain safe separation and avoid mid-air collisions under terms of a $25.6 million contract.
|The U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle, depicted above, will receive the ability to sense and avoid other aircraft.|
Air traffic controllers have hailed this and other efforts to provide UAVs with sense-and-avoid capability to improve air safety in controlled airspace.
UAV experts at the Northrop Grumman Aerospace sector's Battle Management & Engagement Systems Division will design and develop the UAV sense-and-avoid capability for BAMS in support of the Navy and U.S. Air Force. BAMS will work together with the future Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft to fulfill the Navy's next-generation long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission.
Airborne sense-and-avoid systems support the detection of, and safe separation from, manned and unmanned aircraft to an equivalent level of safety to the see-and-avoid capability of a human pilot.
UAV systems designers are putting substantial time, money, and energy into enabling UAVs to sense and avoid other aircraft so they can operate safely alongside commercial and general-aviation aircraft in civil controlled airspace.
With this kind of UAV sense-and-avoid capability, if certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), UAVs such as BAMS not only could fulfill military surveillance and reconnaissance missions in war zones and outside of civil controlled airspace, but they also might be able to handle surveillance in and around large cities with complicated, congested airspace, as well as near sensitive border areas.
On this contract, Northrop Grumman will do the work in Bethpage, N.Y., and in San Diego, and should be finished by November 2012. Awarding the contract were officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.