Hunter UAS to continue to fly as Army awards $36M contract

The Hunter Unmanned Aircraft System was thought to be nearing the end of its life last year when the Department of Defense awarded Northrop Grumman a $37.2 million contract modification to supply logistics and engineering support through Jan. 14, 2014 (today). Now it seems the stay of execution has been extended another year, as the company was awarded another $36.2 million modification to provide support through Jan. 14, 2015.

The Hunter UAS has been extremely long lived. It recently surpassed 100,000 combat flight hours in service, Northrop Grumman announced, and has been in use by the U.S. Army since 1996.

In fact, the RQ-5A Hunter was the Army’s first fielded UAS. Its successor, the MQ-5B, is a┬álong endurance, medium altitude UAS that gathers┬áreconnaissance information and relays it via video link to commanders and soldiers on the ground. It uses the Army’s One System ground control station and remote video terminal and carries a communications relay package to extend the radio range of warfighters. Hunter is also equipped with a differential GPS automatic takeoff and landing system.

“Our very close working relationship with our Army customer has been critical to the program’s enduring success,” Steve Hogan, general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Logistics and Modernization division, said in a recent statement. “The team’s innovative partnering approach has been seamless over the years. The team has established an impeccable track record of continuous modernization and highly reliable performance while serving on the front lines shoulder-to-shoulder with our nation’s warfighters in combat operations.”

[ photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp. ]