Magazine article National Defense

Pentagon Picks Firms to Build Unmanned Electronic Warfare and Strike Platforms

Magazine article National Defense

Pentagon Picks Firms to Build Unmanned Electronic Warfare and Strike Platforms

Article excerpt

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force recently selected four contractor teams to build unmanned aircraft that can also be used as weapon platforms.

Each team will receive $4 million for the initial 10-month trade study, analyses, and preliminary design phase of the program-called the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) advanced technology demonstration.

The contractors leading each team are Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, Fort Worth, Texas; Northrop Grumman Corporation, Military Aircraft Systems Division, Pico Rivera, California; Raytheon Systems Company, Falls Church, Virginia; and The Boeing Company, Information, Space & Defense Systems, Phantom Works, Seattle.

DARPA and Air Force officials said their goal is to determine what capabilities can be achieved by a UCAV in suppression of enemy air defenses and strike missions. They will also conduct cost studies to decide whether the technology will provide an affordable system for the future.

The Defense Department has provided specific mission objectives and guidance on overall system capability to the contractors, and each team will be responsible to provide information on "mission effectiveness and affordability trades," said a DARPA official.

The companies will then define a UCAV demonstrator system to validate the critical technologies associated with their design. At the conclusion of this 10-month preliminary design phase, the Pentagon will decide whether to proceed with the 42-month second phase valued at approximately $110 million. …

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