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DARPA Orders 2nd TERN VTOL UAV Prototype

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posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 08:15 PM

With progress made with the fabrication of the first flight demonstrator of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) program DARPA has funded a second TERN technology demonstrator. Since DARPA awarded Phase 3 of the TERN program to a team led by the Northrop Grumman Corporation, the program made significant advances on numerous fronts. Milestones included commencement of wing fabrication, completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle and progress with the system integration. “DARPA has been thinking about building a second TERN test vehicle for well over a year,” said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. “Adding the second technology demonstrator enhances the robustness of the flight demonstration program and enables military partners to work with us on maturation, including testing different payloads and experimenting with different approaches to operational usage.” According to the agency, TERN is making substantial progress toward scheduled 2018 flight tests of prototype unmanned air system for small-deck ships.

Tern is currently scheduled to start integrated propulsion system testing in the first part of 2017, move to ground-based testing in early 2018, and culminate in a series of at-sea flight tests in late 2018. Wind tunnel tests of a sub-scale model are underway at the 80’ x 120’ wind tunnel at the NASA Ames Research Center’s National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC). Data collected during this test will be used to better characterize aircraft aerodynamic performance and validate aerodynamic models.

Picture of airframe under construction:

(Aside: What I find amusing is the one guy in the bunny suit and the other in a t shirt.)

I have to admit, I am actually pretty enthusiastic with this program. The idea of being able to put UCAVs with 600 mi ranges on every last warship LCS or larger is pretty awesome. If the JAGM missile would be used (and the range upgraded to what was planned for the JCM) then we could see something more than a little pesky.

(wild speculation) If it could actually carry 4 Mk 54 torpedoes (if those were working properly), it might function as a quick response backup for an SH-60/Fire Scout combo.

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 08:21 PM
a reply to: anzha

Amazing stuff, huh?

The only thing that video left out (and it's a big one) is the involvement of the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence).

Of course, since the vid was made for public consumption and ONI loathes any kind of publicity, that is completely understandable.

But I do *love* DARPA.

We couldn't even be having this discussion if it weren't for DARPA...

edit on 11/17/2016 by Riffrafter because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 08:35 PM
a reply to: anzha

I want to see TERN adapted into a tail-sitting crewed CAS/COIN aircraft, sort of a bastard spawn of a Convair Pogo and a Super Tucano, with a semi-autonomous takeoff/landing cycle.

Perhaps it could be flown by the USMC.

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 10:14 PM
a reply to: Barnalby

Well, considering one of the ships in the video was a USMC assault ship...

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