Low Cost Spy Plane Takes Off as Military Budgets Squeezed

August 29, 2012

The new Air Claw system marks Northrop's latest effort to expand its overseas revenues and move into new non-military markets at home given the expected decline in U.S. military spending after a decade of sharp growth.

The new aircraft adds high-tech sensors to the rugged, single-engine Quest Kodiak aircraft, including a wide-area surveillance camera that captures images over an area that measures 4 miles by 4 miles and has already been used to help make arrests on the southern U.S. border.

"Air Claw will cost millions less than other aircraft that are out there," Tom Kubit, a senior executive with Northrop Grumman's technical services sector, told reporters at a small private airport outside Baltimore.

He said Northrop has built over a dozen special mission planes for the U.S. government over the past 21 years, but developed the new plane as a low-cost alternative given the mounting budget pressures facing the U.S. government and an estimated 48 countries that use such aircraft.

Northrop will demonstrate the Air Claw to U.S. law enforcement agencies this week.

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