- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Pentagon is planning a demonstration for late 2018 that will prove to the world that it can blanket the globe with versatile drones.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced funding on Monday for Phase III of its Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) project. The effort, made in partnership with the Office of Naval Research and Northrop Grumman, will give officials the ability to launch long-range, high-endurance operations from anywhere in the world.

In short, TERN will use vertical launch drones with offensive and defensive capabilities from over 100 small deck helicopter-capable ships.

“It would allow the Navy and the Marine Corp to conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — and targeting and strike operations virtually anywhere in the world at ranges greater than 600 nautical miles,” DARPA said via its YouTube channel on Monday.

Each drone is capable of carrying 1,000 pounds of payload.

“DARPA, ONR, and Northrop Grumman are currently planning a series of at-sea flight tests of a full-scale technology demonstration system in late 2018,” the agency added. “TERN aims to dramatically improve the quality, capability and reach of future Navy [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance/Strike aircraft], and Marine expeditionary operations around the world.”

Each system fits inside a ship hangar for maintenance operations and storage.

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