Northrop Grumman Teams with Shield AI for Future Unmanned Aircraft System Prototype

By James M. Douglas, The Chicago Times

March 29, 2023

FALLS CHURCH, VA – Northrop Grumman Corporation, teamed with Shield AI, announced Tuesday that it has been chosen by the US Army to participate in the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System competition, Increment 2, to replace the long-serving RQ-7B Shadow tactical unmanned aerial system.

Northrop Grumman, under a seven-week base period contract, will define the modular open-system architecture of an enhanced V-BAT aircraft, including the integration of advanced surveillance and electronic warfare payloads.  The V-BAT UAS is a compact and lightweight platform that a team of two soldiers can rapidly launch and recover in on-the-move combat environments.

Increment 2 of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) program. Image: Northrop Grumman and Shield AI.

“Our team’s enhanced V-BAT embodies more than 30 years of experience designing, delivering and sustaining advanced unmanned aircraft systems, combined with a field-proven platform and production facilities,” said Angela Johns, vice president, autonomous and tactical air systems, Northrop Grumman. 

Shield AI, a designer and manufacturer of the V-BAT platform, will provide solutions for an expeditionary vertical takeoff and landing UAS, capable of persistent aerial reconnaissance for US Army ground units.  

According to Northrop Grumman, previous versions of the V-BAT have supported operations for the US Navy and Marine Corps since 2016.   The enhanced V-BAT will be designed for simple operation and reduced logistics tail and capacity to carry a range of interchangeable payloads, including electro-optical/infra-red, synthetic aperture radar and EW systems.