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Iran Press TV

Pentagon to arm smaller warships with drones

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 6, 2016 2:11PM

The Pentagon has awarded Northrop Grumman with a multi-million-dollar contract aimed at enabling unmanned drones to operate from smaller warships.

The $93.1 million contract was awarded to Northrop on December 24 as part of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) program, the CNN reported Wednesday.

Under TERN, DARPA seeks to provide airborne surveillance and drone strikes from the decks of 'forward-deployed small ships' without having to deploy aircraft carriers or construct large, fixed land bases.

According to DARPA, fixed-wing unmanned aircraft require bases and large aircraft carriers, which in turn require 'substantial financial, diplomatic and security commitments.'

In theory, this new technology would allow surveillance flights and drone strikes to be launched globally from the hundreds of existing 'small-deck naval maritime vessels,' Northrop Grumman noted.

The US Defense Department said that it expects the first prototype to fly on November 2017.

Washington's push to advance its drone technology comes amid heightened concerns over the lack of trained military pilots, which according to the Los Angeles Times, has forced the Air Force to hire civilian pilots to navigate the aircraft.

The Pentagon is also accused of running a mass assassination program using its drones. The program attracted a lot more attention in October 2015, when a whistle-blower within the US intelligence ranks leaked a series of sensitive documents that shed light on Washington's drone operations in countries like Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The documents revealed that in order to hide the true numbers of civilian casualties, the US military categorizes unidentified people killed in drone strikes as enemies, even if they were not the intended targets.

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