Northrop Grumman advances unmanned systems capabilities for maritime missions

TERN Northrop Grumman Corp. is developing new, advanced unmanned systems to support the Department of Defense’s capability to deploy global persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities in a faster and more cost-effective way.

The next-generation Tactical Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern) program is one example of several in progress focused on addressing various customer challenges. Designed to operate off small-deck U.S. Navy vessels, Tern would enable greater mission capability and flexibility without the need for establishing fixed land bases or deploying aircraft carriers.

Currently under the joint leadership of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research, Tern aims to improve aviation capabilities from smaller ships substantially beyond the current levels.

“Being competitively selected to execute Phase II of the Tern program allows us to further demonstrate how our system could advance the Navy’s mission,” said Chris Hernandez, vice president, advanced systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Our Tern solution taps into the company’s proven expertise and experience in developing and deploying operational unmanned systems in harsh and challenging environments at sea.”

Tern seeks to develop a semi-autonomous, long-range, persistent ISR/strike asset that could safely and dependably deploy and recover from small-deck naval maritime vessels with minimal ship modifications.

“Our goal is to provide the surface combatant with an innovative, game-changing system that addresses the need for a highly flexible, robust and affordable unmanned ISR/strike capability,” said Ralph Starace, manager, advanced systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.