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Northrop Grumman passes 2 Tern program milestones

By
Ryan Maass
The completion of two critical design reviews bring the project closer to its demonstration phase, Northrop Grumman officials say. Photo by Northrop Grumman.
The completion of two critical design reviews bring the project closer to its demonstration phase, Northrop Grumman officials say. Photo by Northrop Grumman.

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman has completed two critical design reviews for the Tern program, a project facilitating the development of new remotely piloted aircraft.

Tern is a joint effort between Northrop Grumman, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The industry team is collaborating on the development of a new unmanned aerial vehicle that can be deployed from maritime platforms for surveillance and strike missions. The new aircraft is being designed to fly in vertical and horizontal modes.

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Northrop Grumman's team completed a critical design review for the vehicle's General Electric engine in mid-October, followed by another critical design review for its vehicle management system. The latest milestone marked the approval of the hardware and software architecture that will allow the aircraft to transition from vertical into horizontal flight after launch.

With the designs approved, the team is confident they will soon be able to demonstrate their new capabilities.

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"Tern's unique combination of speed, long endurance, range, and altitude would give the Navy and Marine Corps a cost-effective, transformational capability to conduct ISR, light strike, and other missions from the sea at ranges exceeding 600 nautical miles," program manager Bob August said in a press release. "These successful milestones add confidence to our plan to demonstrate this new vehicle capability in 2018."

Northrop Grumman's announcement comes shortly after DARPA revealed it would be funding a second vehicle for the project. Officials say adding a second aircraft will streamline the program, and allow industry partners more freedom to experiment with different payloads and operational uses.

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