AeroVironment reported today that it has been awarded a $2.3 million contract to help develop a new type of unmanned aircraft system for DARPA.
The company will work as the prime contractor with DARPA on the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) Program to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS designed to operate from small ships to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
According to AeroVironment:
The intent of the TERN program is to produce a low-cost, large-scale TERN prototype vehicle over the course of three development phases that would demonstrate automatic launch and recovery and key technologies required by a TERN objective system. The mission performance goals for the operational TERN system are comparable to emerging land-based MALE UAV capabilities.
The ultimate goal for a TERN objective system air vehicle is to enable persistent ISR capabilities with payloads of 600 pounds while operating up to 900 nautical miles from a host vessel. The TERN objective system is intended to operate from multiple ship types, including Littoral Combat Ship 2 (LCS-2) class ships, and in elevated sea states.
Sierra Nevada Corporation will subcontract to AeroVironment on the project.
[ artist’s concept courtesy of DARPA ]