Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems business intends to lean heavily on its experience with unmanned platforms such as Fire Scout and RQ-4A Global Hawk to answer the needs of the UK's Watchkeeper programme.

Watchkeeper, an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) programme, has attracted four consortia.

The others are headed by BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Thales. A shortlist of two teams will be announced imminently.

The programme is designed to provide ISTAR information to army commanders at battle group, brigade and divisional level via a mix of unmanned air vehicles and a system for distributing and exploiting the resulting data. The UK Ministry of Defence wants to have initial operational capability on Watchkeeper by 2005 and full capability in 2007-8. The Northrop Grumman team includes UK companies Detica (requirements assessment and analysis), Ultra Electronics (datalink systems analysis and definition), General Dynamics UK (battlefield digitisation) and STASYS (operational analysis).

"We are leveraging our extensive expertise with unmanned ISTAR systems such as Global Hawk, Fire Scout and the Pegasus demonstration aircraft to develop the Watchkeeper capability," says Robert Mitchell, VP for advanced systems development at Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

Source: Flight Daily News