The companies have expanded their long-term partnership, teaming up to develop new unmanned aerial capability.
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Leonardo and Northrop Grumman Corporation have agreed to jointly pursue opportunities in the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) space, collaborating on design, system architectures, payload optimisation and integration within future battlespace architectures.
The primes will specifically focus on customer requirements and mission-based concepts of operations.
Leonardo is expected to leverage its rotorcraft experience, supported by Northrop Grumman’s advanced aeronautics and autonomous uncrewed aerial systems capability.
This latest agreement extends the companies’ long-term partnership, first established in 1995.
This includes the joint development of the AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis DIRCM for the US Department of Defense and UK Ministry of Defence, and the ongoing delivery of the US Army’s Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) technology.
Northrop Grumman Australia and Leonardo Australia also teamed up earlier this year to bid for the Commonwealth government’s SEA 129 Phase 5 program, which aims to deliver a maritime uncrewed aerial system (MUAS) to the Royal Australian Navy.
The SEA 129 collaboration involves leveraging the Leonardo AWHero and elements of Northrop Grumman’s advanced battlespace architecture system as the basis of a next generation deployable intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) capability.
“We see this partnership as a great opportunity to leverage the synergies between Leonardo and Northrop Grumman in the sphere of VTOL and UAS technologies,” Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters, said.
“This collaboration comes at a time when we see emerging military and civil requirements worldwide in the uncrewed domain.
“This partnership will enable a strong and concerted approach to existing, as well as next-generation VTOL UAS technologies from two leading global aerospace engineering companies.”
Nick Chaffey, Northrop Grumman’s chief executive, UK, Europe, Middle East noted the benefits of the collaboration.
“Northrop Grumman has decades of experience and unmatched expertise in developing and delivering uncrewed and autonomous aerial systems including the RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-8C Fire Scout, Firebird, a UAS that has the capability to be flown manned, and the pioneering X-47B aircraft,” Chaffey said.
“There are many possibilities that our collaboration with Leonardo will deliver for customers worldwide as they look to solve new challenges in a complex, unpredictable threat environment.”