Air Claw – Northrop Grumman’s new ISR capability

NORTHROP GRUMMAN announced on October 2 that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued the company’s Air Claw a multi-use Supplemental Type Certificate (STC).  The STC provides Air Claw customers with an FAA-certified airborne surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

Air Claw is based on the rugged Quest Kodiak 100 short take-off and landing aircraft. The Air Claw multi-use STC validates the quality of design and integration and allows the aircraft to operate without limitation in US airspace.  It also covers modifications of the Kodiak’s external cargo compartment, cabin interior arrangement and the electrical power distribution system.  The Air Claw certificate adds a fixed electro-optical/infrared sensor, ground communications radios, downlink and a wide area surveillance system.

The Air Claw demonstration aircraft is currently equipped with FLIR Star Safire 380-HD and several other innovative technology applications to include the Hawkeye wide area motion imaging system designed by Persistent Surveillance Systems of Dayton, Ohio.  The Northrop Grumman team continues to expand future command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) payloads to meet diverse customer needs in the law enforcement, wildlife management and military reconnaissance missions.

“This STC is an important step in demonstrating the safety and reliability of the system.  It provides the ability for customers to acquire a fully modified aircraft and safely operate them within the FAA’s normal’ category,” said Bob Gamache, director, special mission systems, Northrop Grumman Technical Services.  ”The certificate covers an operations-ready configuration and provides a baseline of testing and engineering for customers who may want to further tailor Air Claw to their specific mission needs.”

The aircraft are assembled at Quest’s Sand Point, Idaho, facility and modified at Northrop Grumman’s Middle River, Maryland, repair station.   In 2012, Northrop Grumman established a collaborative agreement with Quest Aircraft to develop and jointly market Air Claw as the preferred single engine special mission aircraft.  Air Claw makes use of the Kodiak’s unique, rugged design and Northrop Grumman’s legacy of commercial aircraft modifications for special mission aircraft.  The system offers strong surveillance performance and short take-off and landing capability in an affordable, customizable package.