Washington: Northrop Grumman is searching for new customers for a new multi-mission, modular and “affordable” unmanned air system, a Northrop official said Wednesday.
The Bat UAS is a relatively lightweight B-2 lookalike that promotes its ability to quickly change sensor packages and fuel capacity. So far, Northrop has a contract to deliver a number of BATs to the Air Force Research Laboratory for a project called Sand Dragon, Mark Gamache, director of advanced concepts west, said at an AUVSI briefing.
Gamanche would not say how many BATs were going to AFRL, and would say only that Sand Dragon included “counter-IED.” He also would not name any of the other potential customers he said were interested in the UAS or quote a price. But he said the sensors it carried cost five to six times as much as the vehicle.
True to its name, BAT is a bat-shaped carbon-fiber aircraft with detachable wings for a 10- or 12-foot span and with its open-architecture software and internal rail systems can quickly incorporate a wide range of sensors, including Ku or X-band radars.
A user can trade off larger fuel tanks for longer endurance — up to 25 hours — or more sensors, Gamanche said. BAT can use a number of common catapults to launch and is recovered by flying into a net so it doesn’t need a runway, he said. That is similar to Insitu’s widely-used Scan Eagle and its large follow-on Integrator UAS. Gamache said BAT has been tested at the Dugway, Utah, proving grounds, which provided altitude and weather conditions similar to Afghanistan and Iraq, where Central Command operates. Northrop is studying a naval version, called Sea BAT, and a larger version with an 18-foot wing span, he said.