Northrop Grumman has partnered with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University to study airworthiness requirements to operate unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in Australia.
The partnership primarily seeks to develop solutions for safe and efficient UAS operation in all airspace environments with a particular focus on larger systems with the size of small commercial aircraft.
Northrop Grumman Australia chief executive Ian Irving said the company's goal is not only to provide the aircraft, but also to fully understand the Australian Government's requirement to certify the UAS for operation.
"We're extremely excited to work with RMIT University because of their leadership in the development of innovative approaches to civil and military airspace regulatory reform and air vehicle certification," Irving said.
RMIT Sir Lawrence Wackett Aerospace Research Centre deputy director Reece Clothier said Northrop will provide a transformative capability to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
"In collaboration with Northrop Grumman and the ADF, we will help establish a plan for bringing this unique capability into service," Clothier said.
Northrop has delivered more than 100,000 UAS to military customers in the US and worldwide to date.
The company also manufactured RQ-4 Global Hawk, which became the first unmanned, powered aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean in a flight of more than 23-hour duration from Southern California to Adelaide, in 2001.
Powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, the RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAS designed to provide field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas in support of military, humanitarian and environmental missions.
Image: A US Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of Bobbi Zapka.