Northrop Grumman Corp. (San Diego, Calif., USA) announced on Feb. 25 that it has flown the first in a new series of Bat unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in January. Configured with a 12-ft/3.6m wingspan, the Bat-12 incorporates a Hirth engine as well as a low acoustic signature five-blade propeller. The new configuration increases the mission portfolio of Northrop Grumman's scalable Bat UAS product line.
Since acquiring the Bat product line from Swift Engineering (San Clemente, Calif., USA) in April 2009, Northrop Grumman has implemented an aggressive demonstration schedule for the Bat family of aircraft to expand flight operations and military utility for numerous tactical missions. During recent testing, the 12-ft/3.6m and 10-ft/3m wingspan Bat were each successfully launched from an AAI Shadow UAS launcher and autonomously operated from a single ground control station before recovery via net.
As a communications relay using Northrop Grumman's Software Defined Tactical Radio, Bat has also demonstrated its capacity to provide beyond line-of-sight tactical communications relay for ground forces in denied environments, a critical role in irregular warfare.
Recently, the Bat UAS has been integrated and tested with new payloads and systems, including a T2 Delta dual payload micro-gimbal from Goodrich Corp.'s Cloud Cap Technology Inc., Sentient Vision Systems' Kestral real-time moving target indicator, and short wave infrared camera from Goodrich. In February, payload integration and testing was expanded to include ImSAR's Nano-SAR-B fused with Cloud Cap's T2 gimbal in a cursor-on-target acquisition mode.