Dubbed Dash X, the UAV will fold inside a canister and is designed to be carried on the EA-18G Growler
During a media tour of Northrop Grumman’s mission systems facility outside Baltimore, Maryland, reporters were shown an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that folds inside a canister and designed to be carried on the EA-18G Growler.
Partnering with VX Aerospace, the company plans to incorporate this technology on the EA-18G Block II. Dubbed Dash X, the UAV will gather radio frequencies once it separates from its canister.
According to Flight Global, Northrop Grumman modified a Bombardier Dash 8 with a sensor suite, which directed the UAV to change missions and locations in real time during the experiment. Northrop’s first experiment marked a shore-based test and will tackle aircraft separation in the next funding phase.
“We did a demonstration where these flew forward, looked for an unlocated RF [radio frequency] object, they went out and they found that vehicle, they listened for the whispering and they pulled it back to this test airframe and they were able to detect, identify and geolocate,” says JJ Thompson, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems Airborne C4ISR Division.
Northrop Grumman is working Dash X through ONR, as well as the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Naval Air Systems’ PMA-265, which handles the service’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G fleets. The U.S. Navy appears to be interested in Dash X as part of a manned-unmanned teaming effort with its Block II Growlers, Thompson says.
The company believes its slow speed of 60 kts and tiny size will allow it to evade detection by enemy air defense systems.
“How does a company go from making B-21s to this?” Thompson says. “It is actually survivable because it is absolutely so slow and so small, when you think about how military systems are designed, they’re designed to shoot down tactical jets and you’re actually build into radars gates that take away things just as birds.”
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg / U.S. Navy
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com