Northrop Grumman has received the first complete ship set of flight hardware from Aurora Flight Sciences for the US Navy’s broad area maritime surveillance unmanned aircraft system (BAMS UAS) programme.

The delivery of the composite structures package that includes aft fuselage, forward nacelle, mid nacelle, aft nacelle and V-tail assemblies is part of a contract awarded to Northrop in April 2008.

The MQ-4C BAMS UAS is the naval version of the US Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft and is designed to support various missions when operating independently or in collaboration with fleet assets.

The long-endurance system incorporates a 360° multifunction active sensor (MFAS) active electronically scanned array along with navy-specific groundstations.

The multi-mission maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system is capable of conducting maritime surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment and port surveillance missions.

The aircraft also provides communication relay and support of maritime interdiction, surface warfare, battlespace management and targeting for maritime and littoral strike missions to the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF).

Additionally, the UAS will enable military commanders to efficiently patrol a wide range of open ocean and littoral regions by providing reliable intelligence information about potential maritime surface threats.

As a member of Northrop’s Q-4 Enterprise team since 1995, Aurora’s Global Hawk activities include manufacturing complete composite components of the aircraft except the wing and radomes.

Currently in the development and demonstration stages, the aircraft system is expected to make its first flight in 2012.

The MQ-4C BAMS UAS programme is managed by the US Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office.