Seeking to enhance the capabilities of its medium-altitude UAVs, the U.S. Air Force has asked Northrop Grumman to develop a signals intelligence sensor payload for the MQ-1 Predator and design an expanded version of the sensor for the MQ-9 Reaper.
Under an 18-month contract valued at $54.9 million, Northrop will develop and test the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload 1C (ASIP-1C) sensor on the Predator. Factory tests are scheduled to be complete in December and flight tests in May 2009, with operational fielding set for 2010.
The company will also develop a preliminary design for an expanded ASIP-2C version of the sensor to provide a SigInt capability for the Reaper.
ASIP-1C will be a derivative of the ASIP sensor developed for the U-2 spy plane and the Global Hawk UAV, the company said.
The company said ASIP-1C will deliver enhanced communications intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities in support of Predator's hunter-killer-scout mission.
The ASIP industry team includes Northrop Grumman as prime contractor for sensor development; General Atomics, which builds the UAVs; and Raytheon for the ground-station interface.