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Published:June 22nd, 2007 17:38 EST
 Northrop Grumman Hunter Achieves 50,000 Hours of Flight Time

Northrop Grumman Hunter Achieves 50,000 Hours of Flight Time

By SOP newswire

(PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Hunter Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), in use with the U.S. Army since 1996, recently surpassed 50,000 flight hours in service, over half of which were flown in combat. Northrop Grumman-operated Hunter MQ-5A and Army-operated MQ-5B models are currently deployed in the Global War on Terrorism. Hunter provides warfighters with state-of-the-art reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition (RSTA), communications relay, and weapons delivery.

"From the Balkans to Iraq, Hunter is a proven combat multiplier, providing our nation's warfighters with actionable RSTA, and, in recent months, with superior precision strike capability using Viper Strike munitions," said Dave Werkheiser, vice president and general manager of Life Cycle Optimization and Engineering Group for Northrop Grumman's Technical Services sector. "We're committed to continuing to enhance Hunter's performance and making future generations of the UAS more capable as technology advances."

The RQ-5A Hunter was the Army's first fielded UAS. The MQ-5B is the next-generation Hunter, continuing a legacy of service to Army corps, division and brigade warfighters. Flying over the battlefield with its multi-mission optronic payload, the MQ-5B gathers RSTA information in real time and relays it via video link to commanders and soldiers on the ground.

The MQ-5B Hunter is distinguished by its heavy fuel engines (a U.S. Department of Defense first), its "wet" (fuel-carrying) extended center wing with weapons-capable hard points and a modern avionics suite. The MQ-5B Hunter system uses the Army's One System ground control station and remote video terminal. It also carries a communications relay package to extend the radio range of warfighters. A differential GPS automatic takeoff and landing system is under development for Hunter.

"Hunter is adaptable for numerous missions and provides commanders with a reliable strike-capable RSTA asset that has superb on-station endurance of 21 flight hours," said Jim Perry, program director of Hunter for Northrop Grumman. "With Hunter in the field, our warfighters have continuous 'eyes' over the battlespace. This achievement is a tribute to the hundreds of past and present dedicated warfighters and Northrop Grumman professionals who have maintained and operated this system with unmatched expertise."

The MQ-5B features a robust, fixed-wing, twin tail-boom design with redundant control systems powered by two heavy fuel engines -- one engine to "push" and another to "pull" the air vehicle. A unique Hunter capability is its relay mode that allows one Hunter to be controlled by another UAV at extended ranges or over terrain obstacles typical of those found in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

To replace obsolete systems, increase readiness and reduce the logistics burden on soldiers, Northrop Grumman integrated a new suite of avionics for Hunter, including upgraded flight and mission computers, an auxiliary power distribution unit, the LN-251 inertial navigation system and GPS units, a downsized data link system, and an APX-118 IFF transponder. The avionics suite improves performance by reducing size, weight, and power consumption of the equipment used to control the aircraft and manage its critical subsystems.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.