Future Autonomous Air

Future Autonomous Air

As the United States and allied nations prioritize the joint force to address global security challenges, Northrop Grumman is already supporting many of the systems critical to connecting each service across multiple domains. Future autonomous platforms, powered by collaborative autonomy, will be a revolutionary approach in deterring, or if necessary, engaging adversaries on battlefields of the future.

men sitting in a dark room looking at computer


Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Autonomy/Responsive Control (DA/RC) system is a leading prototype Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) system. It connects and controls a wide range of complex systems across all domains and services. This mature transformational software provides decision making superiority for a manned/unmanned fleet in up to a highly contested environment. Through DA/RC, operators are able to control a large number of assets at machine speed with scalable degrees of human oversight. DA/RC capability will be instrumental in shaping the future of combat by enabling technology to work in closer collaboration with people. This transformational technology enables seamless human-machine collaboration for effective decision-making and cooperative mission management across distributed manned and unmanned assets.

DA/RC Web Page >
Fighter jets flying over mountains

Next Generation UAS

Northrop Grumman’s design incorporates Open Mission Systems (OMS) and adaptive autonomy to allow the platform to exchange information with a diverse set of systems through the company’s DA/RC architecture. The aircraft will be designed to enable multi-role modularity and open mission systems to include strike, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.


Skyborg is one of three Air Force priority Vanguard programs outlined to advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping experiments. Northrop Grumman’s efforts focus on the autonomy required for human-machine teaming and real-time mission management envisioned for the Skyborg program using proven low-cost, tactically-relevant air vehicles.

Read AFLMC Contract Awards >


Joining global efforts to collaborate on a maritime unmanned aerial systems (MUAS) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) the Northrop Grumman Australia and Leonardo Australia team have been shortlisted to the next phase of the SEA129 phase 5 program. The platform is based on a mature and modular architecture that allows a wide and easily reconfigurable range of payloads. The team’s offering also includes an exportable variant of Northrop Grumman’s ground-breaking Distributed Autonomy/Responsive Control (DA/RC) command and control system to enhance and automate tactical decision making to the RAN to help outmatch threats in a complex, unpredictable environment. Read News Release >

Illustration of a fight jet inflight with a missle tracking over it's wing


In collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), LongShot is a critical first step in the development of innovative operational concepts and solutions that will enhance the warfighter’s combat capability against threats. DARPA’s LongShot program will explore new lethal engagement concepts by leveraging multi-modal propulsion, weapon systems that can be operationally deployed from existing fighters or bombers.

Read News Release DARPA Initiates Design of LongShot Unmanned Air Vehicle (DARPA news) Interoperability Leads to LongShot
8 people standing lined-up behind a missile mounted on a wheeled-carrier

Gray Wolf

Northrop Grumman’s clean sheet design for Gray Wolf explores development of a low cost, open-architecture, modular weapon system that can use multiple cruise missiles in a networked swarm to counter enemy air defenses. The Gray Wolf proof of concept for low-cost, networked munitions is being used in the Air Force Research Lab digital campaign as a baseline for the WeaponONE pathfinder program to develop digital twin technology and use actual “hardware in the loop” and flight testing data to accelerate the USAF into an era of digital engineering. Gray Wolf WeaponONE activities will further inform and validate the Golden Horde initiative, an Air Force Vanguard program that seeks to integrate and connect various weapon systems in a collaborative effort to defeat adversarial targets.

Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (FTUAS)

For FTUAS, the Army is seeking an easily deployable, expeditionary Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) system capable of persistent aerial reconnaissance for US Army Brigade Combat Teams and Special Forces/Ranger battalions. We are partnered with Martin UAV to design and offer a solution that addresses the Army’s FTUAS mission requirements.

Together, Northrop Grumman and Martin UAV are delivering an expeditionary, near zero footprint, flexible VTOL capability that is based on a platform deployed operationally today and that performed exceptionally well during recent Operational Evaluation events. As the threat on the battlefield evolves, so will our capability, augmenting current capabilities and increasing functionality to meet and exceed the US Army’s current and future UAS needs.

In the News

3 heliocopters on deck of ship

Northrop Grumman Australia and Leonardo Australia Team Shortlisted for SEA129-5 Program

Team selected as one of five by Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group for Royal Australian Navy Maritime UAS mission requirements

artist render of futuristic aicraft and missile

Northrop Grumman to Develop Advanced Air-to-Air Missile Engagement Concept

Defense Advanced Research Project Agency LongShot Award Supports Initiative to Increase Weapon Range and Effectiveness

Media Contact

Melissa Dolan
858) 618-7630