The system to be further developed and tested under the 4-year award is the Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team, designed to autonomously manage a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and sensors and distribute actionable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information on demand to soldiers in the field, the company said Monday.
"This contract award is a significant milestone for the HART program as it allows us to mature the technology and bring the system closer to theater deployment," said Carl Johnson, vice president of Advanced Concepts-Air and Land Systems at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
The HART system will enable warfighters to use hand-held computers to request full-motion video of area of interests such as suspected enemy positions or hostile territory, Northrop Grumman said.
It can either retrieve the required information from a catalog of geo-registered images or direct aircraft and sensors to collect updated target information. HART can also manage aircraft in either a fully autonomous mode, in which HART fully controls both the aircraft and its payload; a semi-autonomous mode where HART controls the payload but not the aircraft; or a manual mode, where HART merely processes video from an aircraft. Requested information is displayed on a soldier's hand-held device.
Since its initial demonstration in 2005, HART has been integrated with a number of both operational and developmental unmanned aircraft.