Northrop Grumman has entered into a new partnership with Northland Community & Technical College to continue unmanned aerial systems efforts throughout the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota.
The company said Tuesday it will donate the Bat medium altitude, multi-mission unmanned aircraft and related equipment to the university’s UAS maintenance and training program.
The program aims to educate students on data links, UAS-computer network relationships and communication/guidance systems between vehicles and satellites, as well as prepare them to maintain and repair unmanned aerial system instruments, including unmanned aerial vehicles and ground control stations.
Northrop designed Bat as runway-independent and fully autonomous with functions to support launches from pneumatic or hydraulic rail launchers and recovery into a net-based system.
Curtis Zoller, associate dean of aerospace and agriculture at NCTC, said the university will integrate the new equipment into its training programs.
He stated that the Bat UAS collaboration is an example of ongoing commitments to provide new training offerings to today’s workers.
The university will hold the new equipment in its newly remodeled 18,760 square-foot training facility at the Thief River Falls Airport equipped with a new UAS hanger and new labs with a focus on non-metallic structure and composites, electronics and avionics.
“NCTC is a leader in producing aviation mechanics and technicians, and we've already hired several of their graduates,” said Rick Crooks, advanced systems director at Northrop’s autonomous systems business unit.
“Our collaboration reflects the commitment we made in 2013 to this area and to the advancement of UAS technologies through the Red River Valley Strategic Alliance Agreement,” he added.
Northrop is constructing a 36,000-square-foot facility Grand Sky Unmanned Aerial Systems Business and Aviation Park that will work to provide the area with research and development, aircrew and maintenance training, operations and mission analysis.