Report: Northrop to design vertical takeoff and landing drone for Pentagon - M5 Dergi
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Report: Northrop to design vertical takeoff and landing drone for Pentagon

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The US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has contracted Northrop Grumman to design a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone.

Northrop will design the cost-efficient, runway-independent aircraft demonstrator for the AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY (ANCILLARY) program.


The multiple-mission vehicle will be able to take off and land from ship flight decks and small, austere land locations even in adverse weather conditions, without associated launch and recovery equipment.

The vehicle will have a 60-pound (27 kilograms) sensor payload, an endurance of 20 hours, and a radius range of 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers/115 miles), which is greater than similar systems currently operational, according to the company.

Intended Roles

The aircraft’s small size would allow a naval ship to carry it in greater quantity compared to the larger VTOL systems, “creating a tactical beyond-line-of-site, multi-intelligence sensor network capability,” DARPA explained.

The drone’s mission roles include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting.

It’s intended to support special operations forces’ expeditionary and logistical missions, particularly to perform “ship-to-shore transition of parts and supplies.”

“In collaboration with DARPA, Northrop Grumman will work to significantly enhance how future autonomous vertical lift aircraft will operate at sea and ashore,” Northrop’s Vice President of Research and Advanced Design Tim Frei said.

“The ANCILLARY program enables us to combine our digital engineering expertise with extensive knowledge and insights from past successes in developing and operating uncrewed vertical lift aircraft for the US Navy.”

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