Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Blackjack programme.

The contract has been awarded for the Phase II development of an advanced, software-defined positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) payload.

It has options to build units destined for space flight.

The Phase II effort is worth $13.3m if all options are exercised.

Northrop Grumman’s Future PNT Systems Operating Unit in Woodland Hills is leading the PNT payload work.

This team supports DARPA Tactical Technology Office’s aim of achieving ‘resilient and affordable national security space capabilities’ from low-Earth orbit (LEO).

The payload has been developed to keep troops on target even in confined environments against advanced threats.

Blackjack project aims to build a constellation of cost-effective, small, secure, and resilient military satellites leveraging commercial satellite technologies.

Northrop Grumman emerging capabilities development sector vice-president chief technology officer Nicholas Paraskevopoulos said: “Northrop Grumman’s software-defined positioning, navigation and timing technology will offer military users an agile new signal from LEO that is not dependent on existing satellite navigation systems.

“Warfighters depend on assured PNT for traditional missions like force projection and joint operations, but also for emerging autonomous and distributed missions.”

The PNT payload comprises Northrop’s Software Enabled Reconfigurable Global Navigation Satellite System Embedded Architecture for Navigation and Timing (SERGEANT) capability.