Northrop Grumman has terminated its relationship with California-based Swift Engineering to develop the Killer Bee unmanned air vehicle family.
In parallel, Northrop has confirmed plans to bid for the combined US Navy and Marine Corps Tier II short-range tactical unmanned air system requirement as a subcontractor to Aurora Flight Sciences.
Aurora plans to offer its Golden Eye 80 vertical take-off and landing system for the Tier II competition and reached a basic agreement with Northrop in early January.
The Northrop-Swift Killer Bee team had previously been seen as a primary contender, competing with Boeing-Insitu and AAI-Aerosonde teams planning to bid small, long-endurance systems.
Swift will carry on with Killer Bee bid
Northrop says that the relationship with Swift Engineering ended in December. No official reason has been given for the move, but it is understood that the two companies differed in their assessment of where Killer Bee fitted into their respective UAV portfolios. However, the two companies had also been working during the second half of 2006 on scaled-up versions of the flying wing UAV.
Swift Engineering was unavailable for comment, but the company is understood to be planning to proceed with a Killer Bee bid.