Northrop Grumman has introduced an unmanned air vehicle data management system to the European market, to allow troops on the ground to "eliminate the tunnel-vision of the battlefield".

The HART (heterogenous airborne reconnaissance team) allows soldiers at small unit level without their own UAV to benefit from the plethora of assets overflying the battlespace.

Tim Beard, deputy director of advanced concepts at Northrop Grumman Aerospace, said: "We have got a lot of UAVs in the air, but no-one has created a system so that everyone can share the data."

A unit leader simply sends a request for imagery to the tactical operations centre, which then prioritises the request.

The HART system then selects the most relevant imagery or the nearest UAV, and the image is geolinked and sent back to the unit leader.

In some cases HART could take over a UAV and fly it to the correct location, although Northrop conceded this will not be required by all customers.

So far, nine UAV platforms and one piloted aircraft - the Beechcraft C-12 Huron - have been integrated into the HART system.

A further three - General Atomics' Gray Eagle and Northrop's Global Hawk and Fire Scout - are pending.

HART has been trialled by the US Army and US Marines, with the programme led by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Source: Flight International