Northrop Grumman set to develop tail-down UAV for DARPA’s Tern program

Northrop Grumman set to develop tail-down UAV for DARPA's Tern program

Unlike this DARPA artist’s concept, Northrop Grumman Tern would be a flying wing design. (Credit: DARPA)

The competition to fulfil DARPA’s plan to turn US Navy destroyers and frigates into drone-launching aircraft carriers seems to be over as Northrop Grumman has unveiled its version of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Based on the flying wing design, the Tern UAV lifts off vertically in a tail-down configuration and is designed to operate from the decks of smaller surface ships in the US Navy without the need for aircraft carrier-type runways. At present, Northrop is keeping details about the Tern to itself. No image has been released, though a model was unveiled by Northrop to reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles on December 11. However, it is the latest step in the decades-long pursuit of opening up fleet aviation beyond traditional aircraft carriers. One of the greatest unsung revolutions in naval operations during the Cold War was the installation of flight decks on the sterns of frigates, destroyers, and other ships that allowed them to operate helicopters. By giving these ships air power without relying on carriers or shore bases, […]