The move forward was achieved during a field exercise by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency when Northrop Grumman's Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team system was successfully demonstrated.
"The successful demonstration is the culmination of over six years of DARPA development," said Scott Winship, vice president of advanced concepts-air and land systems at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The goal of this program has been to develop technology that gives a warfighter in the field the ability to request what is needed, when it is needed most.
"Our recent successes put this advanced technology closer to theater deployment to directly serve the warfighter."
The HART system autonomously manages a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and sensors and distributes streaming video, surveillance and reconnaissance information on demand to soldiers in the field.
With the system, warfighters handheld computers to request full-motion geo-registered video of areas of interest such as suspected enemy positions or hostile territory. HART can either dynamically retrieve -- in near real time -- the required information from a catalog of geo-registered images or direct unmanned aircraft systems and/or sensors to collect updated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information.
Northrop said that during the exercise, the HART system software and hardware autonomously managed multiple tactical unmanned aircraft systems, including Shadow, Raven, Hunter and Bat, successfully completing the DARPA Spiral 7 primary test objective.
HART has also been developed to operate with larger unmanned aircraft, including Global Hawk, Predator and Fire Scout.