Strategic Alliance to Explore Future VTOL UAS Opportunities

By Caroline Rees / 23 Sep 2021
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Leonardo and Northrop Grumman will jointly pursue opportunities in the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) domain, drawing on Leonardo’s expertise in rotorcraft and Northrop Grumman’s capabilities in advanced aeronautics to develop new UAS design, system architectures, payload optimization, and integration within next-generation battlespace architectures.

Leonardo and Northrop Grumman

The companies will focus on customer requirements and mission-based Concepts of Operations.

Leonardo and Northrop Grumman have worked together since the mid-1990s when the team jointly developed the AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis Directional Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM) for the U.S. Department of Defense and U.K. Ministry of Defense. The companies are currently working to deliver the U.S. Army’s Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) program for aircraft protection.

The Australian businesses of both companies are also teamed on the Royal Australian Navy’s Maritime Uncrewed Aerial System (MUAS), which is part of the Project Sea 129 Phase 5 program, using Leonardo’s AWHero and elements of an advanced battlespace architecture system from Northrop Grumman as the basis of a next-generation deployable Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T) capability.

“We see this partnership as a great opportunity to leverage the synergies between Leonardo and Northrop Grumman in the sphere of VTOL and UAS technologies,” Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said. “This collaboration comes at a time when we see emerging military and civil requirements worldwide in the uncrewed domain. This partnership will enable a strong and concerted approach to existing, as well as next-generation VTOL UAS technologies from two leading global aerospace engineering companies.” 

“Northrop Grumman has decades of experience and unmatched expertise in developing and delivering uncrewed and autonomous aerial systems including the RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-8C Fire Scout, Firebird, a UAS that has the capability to be flown manned, and the pioneering X-47B aircraft,” added Nick Chaffey, Chief Executive, UK, Europe, Middle East, Northrop Grumman. “There are many possibilities that our collaboration with Leonardo will deliver for customers worldwide as they look to solve new challenges in a complex, unpredictable threat environment.” 

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact