Northrop Grumman [NOC] yesterday said the Army awarded it two contractor logistics support contract modifications totaling $91.2 million for the MQ-5B Hunter program.

The cost-plus-fixed-fee interoperability engineering change proposal and the tactical common data link (TCDL) RESET programs both have a period of performance of 12 months.

For the TCDL RESET, Northrop Grumman will reset the current C-Band Hunter MQ-5B systems with TCDL technology to include resetting Hunter air vehicles, ground stations and data terminals with TCDL technology, the company said in a statement.

Additionally, the TCDL also serves as a foundation of establishing interoperability among different Defense. Department air vehicles and ground stations. Such innovation also allows for manned aircraft to use unmanned aircraft, their sensors and weapons as an extension of their own capabilities keeping aviators out of harm’s way.

"With additional Hunters fielded with TCDL, our nation’s warfighters are further equipped with greater bandwidth and encryption, safeguarding vital information," said Kevin Goates, director, Northrop Grumman Technical Services’ Unmanned Systems Sustainment Center.

The MQ-5B Hunter, which is currently deployed supporting contingency operations in Southwest Asia, is providing the Army with state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and communications relay.

"The Hunter was critical to development of numerous advanced manned and unmanned teaming concepts while attached to combat aviation brigades in support of operations in Iraq," said Goates. "Most importantly, it saved, and will continue to save, the lives of countless soldiers and civilians as it plays a vital role in overcoming the threat of improvised explosive devices."

The MQ-5B Hunter provides intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, communications relay, and signal intelligence, and has accumulated more than 100,000 flight hours, approximately 80 percent of which are combat related.