Orbital engine scores Northrop Grumman as customer

Drone engine manufacturer Orbital Corporation has signed a contract with defence contractor Northrop Grumman for the development of a hybrid propulsion system for a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

The Perth company will develop a new engine combining an electric motor and OEC’s heavy fuel engine, to be used in a Northrop Grumman vertical take-off and landing UAV.

The new contract comes hot on the heels of two recent announcements from Orbital showing rapidly increasing penetration of the drone engine market.

In March Boeing designated OEC the primary supplier of Boeing designed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engines.

In the same month the company broke into the Singapore defence market, signing a memorandum of understanding with one of that country’s largest defence companies.

Orbital UAV CEO Todd Alder said: “This new contract represent another opportunity for Orbital UAV to expand its customer base of global defence prime contractors and further develop our range of products to meet the evolving needs of the tactical UAV market.”

The contracts provides for OEC to develop two initial hybrid propulsion systems for integration into a small UAV development platform.

A hybrid system will allow greater payload to be carried.

Northrop Grumman’s director of autonomous systems operating unit, Rob Sova said Orbital would augment his company’s R&D initiatives and anticipate customer needs.

The prototypes will be delivered during 2021.

Picture: Orbital Corporation

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