The US Navy has awarded a modification contract to Northrop Grumman to provide operations and maintenance services for the broad area maritime surveillance demonstration (BAMS-D) aircraft.

Under the $9.98m follow-on cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, Northrop will provide maintenance, operations and other support services for the BAMS-D unmanned aircraft system (UAS), also known as the global hawk maritime demonstrator.

The company will provide manpower to enhance BAMS-D operational pace from the current nine maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions per month to a sustained level of 15 missions per month for the US Navy.

Northrop Grumman Triton unmanned aircraft programme director, Mike Mackey, said in 2009 the US Navy planned a six-month demonstration to test the maritime surveillance capabilities of the BAMS-D aircraft.

"That demonstration was so successful that the service has used them for more than four years now," Mackey said.

Developed as a naval version of the US Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, the MQ-4C BAMS UAS has been designed to provide signals intelligence (SIGNET), command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and maritime strike capabilities.

"That demonstration was so successful that the service has used them for more than four years now."

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

Powered by a Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, the high-altitude, long-endurance UAS can cruise at a maximum speed of 357mph and provide constant surveillance for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) to carry out littoral missions.

Scheduled to be completed in May 2014, work under the contract will be carried out in Patuxent River, Maryland, US and outside continental US.

The US Naval Air Systems Command will serve as the contracting activity.

Defence Technology