Special Report: Drone propulsion system designer and manufacturer Orbital UAV has landed a contract with one of the world’s biggest aerospace companies, $US30bn ($47.6bn) Northrop Grumman.

Orbital Corporation (ASX:OEC) has signed a deal with one of the world’s largest aerospace and defence technology companies, Northrop Grumman, to develop a hybrid propulsion system for a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle.

Orbital UAV has been tasked to design and develop a hybrid propulsion system, the area it’s specialised in since 2013, which combines an electric motor with the company’s flight-proven heavy fuel engine to provide leading reliability and performance for VTOL unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, applications.

“This new contract of work represents 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,” said Todd Alder, CEO and managing director of Orbital UAV.

A big step

Under the contract, Orbital UAV will develop, supply and support two initial hybrid propulsion systems for integration into Northrop Grumman’s small UAV development platform. Work will be performed at the company’s production and design facility in Perth, Western Australia.

“The integration of our heavy fuel engine technology with a hybrid propulsion system represents a significant technological step forward for the tactical UAV industry,” said Keith Hirschman, Orbital UAV’s vice-president for global growth.

“A hybrid propulsion system will address the growing demand for greater payload power.”


Playing with the big guns

Northrop Grumman, a $US30bn company, is developing the next generation of VTOL UAVs, said the company’s Autonomous Systems operating unit director Rob Sova.

“Orbital UAV will help augment our research and development initiatives in anticipation and support of our customers’ needs.”

Delivery of the two prototype propulsion systems for flight testing is expected to occur during 2021.

The Orbital UAV team expects success in this project could have the potential to lead to additional commercial production opportunities.

It says the development and design contracts will not impact the company’s current financial year revenue guidance figure which remains at $25-$35m.


This story was developed in collaboration with Orbital UAV, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.