An artist's rendering shows how DARPA officials envision the TERN unmanned air system operating from a Navy ship. (DARPA)
Maritime Applied Physics Corp. was awarded a $2.2 million contract for the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or TERN, a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency program aimed at using smaller ships to launch and recover medium-endurance, long-endurance UAVs for reconnaissance and strike missions.
DARPA envisions TERN, which was announced in March, as a series of interchangeable mission packages that could enable a ship to function as a UAV carrier with a minimum of modifications.
The aircraft must be able to carry a 600-pound payload for up to 900 miles, while the launch-and-recovery system must fit on Littoral Combat Ship 2-class ships and other surface combat vessels.