Unmanned fighter aircraft program takes another step toward deployment

ARLINGTON, Va., 25 Oct. 2005. Aircraft designers at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Integrated Systems division in San Diego are adapting the U.S. X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (JUCAS) to operate from aircraft carriers in a move that places the futuristic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) closer to deployment.

ARLINGTON, Va., 25 Oct. 2005. Aircraft designers at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Integrated Systems division in San Diego are adapting the U.S. X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (JUCAS) to operate from aircraft carriers in a move that places the futuristic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) closer to deployment.

Program experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are revising the JUCAS program to include full carrier suitability testing, as well as demonstrating electronic support measures and multiship operations.

DARPA officials also are reducing the number of JUCAS prototypes to be built from three to two.

Northrop Grumman engineers are doing the work under terms of a $419,520 contract increment that DARPA awarded Oct. 17. The contract number is HR0011-06-9-0001.

This agreement not only pays for the first 11 months of the revised program, but also covers the program as it moves from DARPA to Joint Program Office management at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Northrop Grumman will finish this phase of the JUCAS program in September 2006, at which time a follow-on award is planned to complete the program through December 2011.

Work will be in San Diego (73 percent); Palmdale, Calif. (10 percent); East Hartford, Conn. (7 percent); St. Louis (5 percent); Grand Rapids, Mich. (1 percent); Santa Ana, Calif. (1 percent); Torrance, Calif. (2 percent); Costa Mesa, Calif. (1 percent); and at other locations.

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