You Gotta Have HART: Northrop Grumman Develops ISR Aircraft Control System
The US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is working with the US Air Force Research Lab and Northrop Grumman to develop a web-based system to autonomously control manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.
Getting real-time information in an urban firefight can mean the difference between life and death, success and failure. The Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team (HART) program is developing IT capabilities to feed ISR aircraft data directly to the soldiers in the field.
On Feb 17/10, Northrop Grumman received a $46.2 million contract under the HART program to develop technologies enabling command and control of unmanned aircraft for the conduct of urban operations.
HART will manage aircraft as they collect video imagery to support combat operations. Soldiers will use handheld computers to request images of suspected enemy positions. The system will either dynamically retrieve the information from a catalog of geo-registered images or direct the most suitable sets of aircraft to collect updated target data. Requested information is displayed on the soldiers’ handhelds within minutes after the request is issued.
HART can simultaneously control multiple “tiers” of reconnaissance aircraft flying as high as 6,000 feet and scanning areas as far away as 100 miles from the combat zone, to those as low as 100 feet over the immediate combat area.
Using a software interface, HART will link a variety of aerial platforms to build a unified picture of the combat area. UAVs that can be integrated into the HART system include:
- RQ-14 Dragon Eye
- RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout
- RQ-4 Global Hawk
- RQ-5A/MQ-5B/C Hunter
- FQM-151 Pointer
- RQ-1/MQ-1/MQ-9 Predator
- RQ-11 Raven
- RQ-7 Shadow
- MQ-1C Sky Warrior
- X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System
- Yamaha’s RMAX unmanned helicopter
At this time, $9.3 million has been obligated under the Feb 17/10 contract. The Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio manages the contract (FA8650-10-C-7004).
- DARPA – Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team web site
- Northrop Grumman – Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team
- FedBizOpps (Sept 24/09) – HART presolicitation
- DARPA (August 2008) – HART Overview briefing [pdf]
- DARPA (Dec 5/03) – HURT (predecessor to HART) pamphlet [pdf]