AeroVironment awarded DARPA TERN contract
AeroVironment will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS designed to operate from small ships to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. AeroVironment announced the $2.3 million phase 1 concept definition contract on 4 November.
The work is part of DARPA’s Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) programme, which aims to produce a low-cost, large-scale prototype vehicle over the course of three development phases that would demonstrate automatic launch and recovery and key technologies required by a TERN objective system. The mission performance goals for the operational TERN system are comparable to emerging land-based MALE UAV capabilities.
The ultimate goal for a TERN objective system air vehicle is to enable persistent ISR capabilities with payloads of 600 pounds while operating up to 900 nautical miles from a host vessel. The TERN objective system is intended to operate from multiple ship types, including Littoral Combat Ship 2 (LCS-2) class ships, and in elevated sea states.
Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of the company’s UAS business segment, said: ‘We are excited to have been selected by DARPA and about what this signifies for the future of the UAS industry. TERN represents an entirely new category of UAS that has the potential to meet the evolving needs of customers for ISR capabilities. We look forward to applying our extensive experience in creating unique, high-quality and battle-proven UAS solutions to develop a concept with the TERN team that addresses DARPA’s requirements.’
Tim Conver, AeroVironment’s chief executive officer and chairman, added: ‘AeroVironment’s history of innovation has long been a strategic differentiator, and we believe this award from DARPA is a testament to our market-leading position and capabilities. This is a time of significant opportunity and progress at AeroVironment as we execute on our fiscal 2014 plan. We look forward to building on our momentum, and important collaborations like this, as we continue to address new and unique customer challenges.’
Sierra Nevada will subcontract to AeroVironment for ship integration on the project.
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