The Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract valued at $54.9 million to develop and flight test a signals intelligence sensor payload for USAF’s MQ-1 Predator that also will serve as “the foundation for the US Army’s Guardrail modernization signals intelligence upgrade,” said Imar Bitar, a Northrop VP in an April 22 release. “We see significant savings and risk reduction when common sensor capabilities are fielded on different operational platforms,” added Bitar. Northrop expects to develop and flight-test the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload 1C, which will be a “scaled, modular derivative of the ASIP sensor” developed for the U-2 manned reconnaissance aircraft and Global Hawk UAV, by May 2009, moving it to the field in 2010. The company would then produce a preliminary design for an “expanded ASIP-2C version” for used with the larger brother of the Predator, USAF’s MQ-9 Reaper.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.