FORT WORTH, TX --- Bell Helicopter a Textron company today announced they have selected Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas, VA as the airframe provider of the Bell Eagle Eye TR916 Unmanned Aircraft System. Bell Helicopter is a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, a partner in Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, for the Integrated Deepwater System program of the U.S. Coast Guard. The work will be done at Aurora Flight Science’s manufacturing facility located in Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Commenting on the selection Bell Helicopter UAS Program Executive Director Bob Ellithorpe said, “This is a great choice that will be a tremendous plus for the Eagle Eye UAV Product Line. We selected Aurora Flight Sciences for several reasons. Among them is their proven track record of delivering quality products on schedule. One of Aurora’s core competencies is UAV design, development and production.”
Ellithorpe went on to say; “Aurora has the capability to manufacture both metallic and composite structural components and perform airframe assembly all at one facility. This allows them to quickly address and react to changes that are more prevalent in developmental aircraft programs.”
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va stated, “Aurora has developed a unique expertise with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle projects. I am gratified to learn that Aurora is growing this capability by seeking and winning additional UAV contracts. In this new venture, Aurora will continue to tap West Virginia's thriving defense industry to aid the nation's military forces.”
Bell was selected in 2003 by Lockheed Martin to develop and produce the Eagle Eye TR916 Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle system to provide surveillance and reconnaissance as part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program. Bell will deliver 45 Eagle Eye UAVs and 33 ground control stations (GCS) to Lockheed Martin who will integrate the UAV system into the Deepwater system of systems. Current plans call for first flight of the first TR916 Unmanned Air Vehicle system in 4th Qtr 2008.
Aurora Flight Sciences is a leading developer of unmanned aircraft technology for research, defense and homeland security organizations. For more than 17 years, Aurora Flight Sciences has expanded the limits of unmanned flight through the design and manufacture of innovative aircraft. Aurora Flight Sciences’ West Virginia and Mississippi facilities specialize in the manufacture composite and metal aerostructures for manned and unmanned aircraft.
Bell Helicopter is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell’s global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.