“The customer was so enthused by the sale, they’ve asked for more already,” Karl Purdy, the company’s new UAS programs manager, said at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education conference. He declined to disclose the customer’s name.
Northrop Grumman believes that incorporating Sandstorm/Longshot into existing training could save the Air Force $75 million a year when compared to the cost of flying Reapers, Predators, or other simulators.Using Sandstorm/Longshot could help clear a backlog for training Air Force pilots, which is caused by a shortage of simulators. Although adding the system would be an additional cost, it could increase throughput by 25 percent, Purdy said. Pilots can logon, book flying time and be operating the aircraft with 15 minutes, company literature said.
The system is not yet certified as simulator for military use, but last month Northrop Grumman met with Air Combat Command staff. The contractor has proposed splitting a class of students into two groups, with half of students spending two weeks doing normal training and the other half doing training with Sandstorm/Longshot, Purdy said.
“We’ve flown the aircraft now 250 hours; not a single mishap,” Purdy said. “No other UAV can claim in the first 250 hours that they didn’t have a mishap except for Global Hawk.”
(Hum that’s makes little sense)
Trainees can operate the aircraft from anywhere in the United States, he continued. Northrop Grumman intends to do a demonstration next February or March with student pilots flying the aircraft from Great Britain.