DARPA awards $1b contract for combat UAV

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. a five-year, $1 billion contract to build the X-47B aircraft of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems program, an unmanned aerial vehicle that will be used in combat.

A team of contractors led by Northrop Grumman will design, develop and demonstrate a minimum of three aircraft and three mission control systems under the contract. The systems will include integrated sensing, communication and navigation equipment and a common operating system, according to a DARPA release.

J-UCAS is a project being run by DARPA, the Air Force and Navy to demonstrate the feasibility of using networked high-performance, armed UAVs for combat.

Northrop Grumman's team includes Lockheed Martin Corp. and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines Division of East Hartford, Conn.

Flight demonstrations of the X-47B will begin in 2007.

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