Northrop Grumman Corp. recently got a Defense Department deal to develop an unmanned aircraft called TERN.
The Pentagon’s R&D arm has inked a three-year, $93.1 million agreement with Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) to develop the system, which could be used to gather intelligence or deliver weapons.
Northrop was one of two contractors working on the project’s second phase. The other was AeroVironment of Simi Valley (Nasdaq: AVAV).
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of Arlington, Va., awarded phase 3 of the contract to Northrop, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 24.
The deal calls for Northrop to develop a prototype aircraft that can be launched and recovered from a small ship. Northrop would have to design, develop and demonstrate enabling technologies for TERN, short for Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node.
Northrop’s unmanned systems office in Rancho Bernardo will be the program office. Rancho Bernardo is also home to unmanned aircraft programs such as Global Hawk, Triton and Fire Scout.
The Pentagon announcement also said that an unnamed El Cajon business will conduct some work on TERN.
TERN will be a medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft. The face value of the phase 3 agreement is $132.5 million, and the contractor is responsible for paying $39.4 million of the program’s cost.
The Office of Naval Research is also working on TERN.