AUVSI: Northrop proposes Sandstorm for Predator/Reaper training

Las Vegas
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Northrop Grumman is marketing the use of a new UAV, the Sandstorm, to train operators for the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.

Developed by Las Vegas firm Unmanned System Inc, the Sandstorm is considerably smaller and less expensive than the more complex Predator and Reaper.

Northrop Grumman believes it can save the US Air Force $75 million in training costs.

During a presentation at the show, Northrop new UAS programs executive Karl Purdy said simulators cannot fully replicate the buffeting and camera jitter associated with the takeoffs and landings of a real UAV, so the Sandstorm serves better for training operators for missions.

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 Billypix

He added that 100 touch-and-go landings with a Sandstorm costs the same as a single touch-and-go with a Reaper. In addition, using the Sandstorm can free up Predators and Reapers that have been detailed for training purposes.

The Sandstorm can also be operated over the internet, meaning operators need not travel to a specific location for training on the type. Northrop has dubbed the internet training program 'Longshot'.

Six Sandstorms have been produced, but Purdy said this can grow depending on the needs and training requirements of customers. Northrop plans to sell the system as an off-the-shelf training program.