Northrop Grumman has announced a new partnership with Diamond Aircraft Industries and a new presence in Ontario, Canada, to develop
surveillance aircraft for Canadian and international markets.

The announcement came at the CANSEC defence and security show in Ottawa, where the government has been slowly pursuing a long-endurance, unmanned surveillance capability under the joint uninhabited surveillance and target acquisition system (JUSTAS) project.

The London, Ontario-based Diamond Aircraft has developed manned and unmanned surveillance versions of the DA42 twin-propeller light aircraft.

“Combined with Northrop Grumman’s leadership in manned and unmanned systems, we can pool our expertise to explore new opportunities for our customers worldwide.”

The deal also gives Northrop a new product to offer in the class of unmanned aircraft below the high-altitude, jet-driven RQ-4B Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton.

In 2010, Northrop also unveiled the optionally-piloted, twin turboprop-engined Firebird, which was developed by its Scaled Composites rapid prototyping division.

An unmanned DA42 called the Dominator is also marketed by Israel-based Aeronautics Defense Systems, which has agreements for marketing and production with Aurora Flight Sciences and Boeing.

The agreement with Northrop comes at a critical time for Diamond Aircraft. It has refocused its efforts on the government and defence market since 2008, and closed the single-engined D-Jet development programme.

“We’re very excited to move forward in this long-term relationship,” says Peter Maurer, president and chief executive of Diamond Industries Inc.