Orbital Corporation has signed a contract with Northrop Grumman for the development of a hybrid propulsion system for a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Orbital UAV has been tasked to design and develop a hybrid propulsion system which combines an electric motor with the company’s flight-proven heavy fuel engine.
“This new contract of work represents another opportunity for Orbital UAV to expand its customer base of global defence prime contractors and further develop our range of products to meet the evolving needs of the tactical UAV market,” Todd Alder, CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV, said.
Under the contract, Orbital UAV will develop, supply and support two initial hybrid propulsion systems for integration into Northrop Grumman’s small UAV development platform. Work will be performed at the company’s production and design facility in Perth.
“The integration of our heavy fuel engine technology with a hybrid propulsion system represents a significant technological step forward for the tactical UAV industry,” Keith Hirschman, Orbital UAV’s Vice-President for Global Growth, said. “A hybrid propulsion system will address the growing demand for greater payload power.”
“Northrop Grumman is developing the next generation of VTOL UAVs,” Rob Sova, director, Autonomous Systems operating unit, Northrop Grumman, said. “Orbital UAV will help augment our research and development initiatives in anticipation and support of our customers’ needs.”
Delivery of the two prototype propulsion systems for flight testing is anticipated to occur during 2021.