WASHINGTON --- Northrop Grumman Corporation has unveiled the airframe risk reduction element of its Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) offer to the U.S. Navy. Centered on airframe altitude agility, the program is supported with full-scale risk reduction testing of the RQ-4N airframe prior to contract award.
BAMS will supply the U.S. Navy with a persistent global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system to protect the fleet and provide a capability to detect, track, classify, and identify maritime, littoral, and land targets.
The company's testing and risk reduction activities, called Head Start, are focused on offering the U.S. Navy the lowest risk BAMS program and delivering a system solution optimized for capability with lowest developmental and life cycle costs.
“Northrop Grumman's offer includes the RQ-4N air vehicle, which was derived from the RQ-4B Global Hawk,'' said Bill Beck, program manager of Head Start. “It is uniquely configured for the maritime domain and will meet all of the Navy's threshold requirements and more than 90% of their objective requirements.''
“The RQ-4B is a great program,'' said Beck. “With the few modifications necessary to evolve the RQ-4 into an RQ-4N, we have a non-developmental BAMS solution that is inherently low risk. We've shown through service life analyses and full-scale testing to ultimate loads that the RQ-4 platform is well suited to deliver an exceptionally long vehicle life, with minimal servicing, while operating to the BAMS environments and U.S. Navy safety factors. The most recent tests included structurally testing the fuselage, empennage and V-tails to 150% of design limit loads while at temperature extremes, resulting in no failures.''
Northrop Grumman is using Head Start activities to build on the proven track record of the RQ-4 platforms, conducting high altitude, long endurance flights and focusing on demonstrating the RQ-4N's robustness while operating at various altitudes with the accompanying environmental considerations. Activities over the next two months include: bird and hail impact testing of wing leading edges; icing and de-icing tests of wing leading edge sections; additional environmental testing of the complete aircraft; and extensive testing of next generation composite structural materials.
“Our company-funded Head Start program also includes communications and payload demonstrations on the BAMS Gulfstream II flying test bed, and it will also include demonstrating a prototype Mission Control Center,'' said Carl Johnson, vice president of the BAMS program for Northrop Grumman.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4N BAMS team includes Northrop Grumman as prime contractor and team leader, unmanned aerial vehicle supplier and developer of the Multi-Function Active Sensor active electronically scanned array radar and the Night Hunter II electro-optical infrared sensor; L-3 Communications providing communications integration; Raytheon supporting the Mission Control System segment; and Rolls-Royce providing the aircraft engine.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 122,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.