Leonardo and Northrop Grumman have announced their intention to collaborate to seize together new opportunities in the field of remotely piloted systems with vertical take-off and landing capabilities (Vertical Take-Off and Landing Uncrewed Aerial Systems - VTOL UAS).
Benefitting from Leonardo's experience in vertical flight and Northrop Grumman's capabilities in advanced aeronautical technologies and next-generation remotely piloted systems, the two companies will evaluate the possibility of jointly seizing opportunities in the VTOL UAS systems market on a global scale. . The two partners will consider possible collaborations on the design of platforms, system architectures, load optimization and integration within new operational scenarios, with particular attention to customer needs and operational concepts related to the mission.
The agreement represents the most recent development in the fruitful long-term partnership between Northrop Grumman and Leonardo. The two companies work closely in the field of aircraft protection systems. This collaboration dates back to 1995 with the joint development of the DIRCM AN / AAQ-24 (V) Nemesis system for the US Department of Defense and the UK Department of Defense. Today the two partners are working on the US Army's Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) program, aimed at protecting hundreds of aircraft.
Northrop Grumman Australia and Leonardo Australia are also collaborating to meet the Australian Navy's requirement for a remotely piloted system for use in the maritime environment under the SEA129 Phase 5 program. The proposal underlying this collaboration includes the remotely piloted helicopter. AWHero by Leonardo and elements of an advanced operational management system by Northrop Grumman dedicated to intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition tasks.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo's Helicopter Division, commented: “We consider this partnership as a great opportunity to make the most of the synergies between Leonardo and Northrop Grumman in the field of remotely piloted vertical take-off and landing systems. This collaboration comes at a time when new needs are emerging in this industry for military and civil applications around the world. This partnership will make it possible to use a solid and shared approach both for the already existing reference technologies and for the next generation ones coming from two important global aerospace players ”.
Nick Chaffey, Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman for the UK, Europe and the Middle East said: “Northrop Grumman has decades of experience and unmatched expertise in the development and supply of autonomous and remotely piloted aircraft systems including the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the MQ-8C Fire Scout, the Firebird capable of accommodating a also aboard a crew, and the pioneering X-47B aircraft. Our collaboration with Leonardo is able to respond in many ways to customers who, all over the world, are committed to facing new challenges in an environment that presents complex and unpredictable threats ”. Leonardo has developed remotely piloted systems and technologies in all areas, with significant investments in platforms, sensors, communication systems, control systems, as well as capabilities to combat the threats posed by drones and technologies for the management and control of traffic of such systems.
Leonardo is the only company in Europe able to provide complete solutions in this sector and including platforms, sensors, mission systems and ground control stations. The Company also offers its customers services based on drones, using its own fleets and providing intelligence and surveillance directly to the end user. The constant development and integration of cutting-edge solutions in all areas including remote piloted, autonomous and semi-autonomous systems and related technologies, represents one of the key elements of Leonardo's BeTomorrow 2030 Strategic Plan.
The autonomous systems developed by Northrop Grumman operate around the world with an autonomy of over 24 hours, collecting essential data in the field of command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities, in the terrestrial and maritime environment, to enable a process quick and informed decision making. In addition to the development of new aircraft systems, such as the MOSQUITO project for the RAF, Northrop Grumman's DA / RC (Distributed Autonomy / Responsive Control) system is an important JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) command and control system. It can in fact command and control a wide range of complex systems in all domains and for all services. This software provides decision superiority for fleets of both crewed and remotely piloted systems in a wide range of environments, from the most easily accessible to the most complex and risky.