AeroVironment, Inc. announced that it has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to provide its market-leading expertise in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) toward the development of a new category of this technology.
AeroVironment will work as the prime contractor with DARPA on the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) Program to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS designed to operate from small ships to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Sierra Nevada Corporation will subcontract to AeroVironment on the project, which is valued at $2.3 million
"We are excited to have been selected by DARPA and about what this signifies for the future of the UAS industry," said Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of the company's UAS business segment. "TERN represents an entirely new category of UAS that has the potential to meet the evolving needs of customers for ISR capabilities. We look forward to applying our extensive experience in creating unique, high-quality and battle-proven UAS solutions to develop a concept with the TERN team that addresses DARPA's requirements."
"AeroVironment's history of innovation has long been a strategic differentiator, and we believe this award from DARPA is a testament to our market-leading position and capabilities," said Tim Conver, AeroVironment's chief executive officer and chairman. "This is a time of significant opportunity and progress at AeroVironment as we execute on our fiscal 2014 plan. We look forward to building on our momentum, and important collaborations like this, as we continue to address new and unique customer challenges."
The intent of the TERN program is to produce a low-cost, large-scale TERN prototype vehicle over the course of three development phases that would demonstrate automatic launch and recovery and key technologies required by a TERN objective system. The mission performance goals for the operational TERN system are comparable to emerging land-based MALE UAV capabilities.
The ultimate goal for a TERN objective system air vehicle is to enable persistent ISR capabilities with payloads of 600 pounds while operating up to 900 nautical miles from a host vessel. The TERN objective system is intended to operate from multiple ship types, including Littoral Combat Ship 2 (LCS-2) class ships, and in elevated sea states.
The phase 1 concept definition contract was awarded on August 26, 2013. As part of the agreement, Sierra Nevada Corporation will subcontract to AeroVironment for ship integration.