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  • Disappearing Technology Geeks
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 5:22 PM on Mar 18, 2010

    A number of  Northrop Grumman’s top innovators are being mysteriously replaced without any clues about where they are going. Are they being fired, retired? Don’t you believe it. They are being cloistered to win the next combat aviation prize. 

    They are the major players in a strategy to capture the next great military aviation program – a very stealthy platform that combines bomber and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. But you’ll find them only if you look very closely. At Northrop Grumman, Bob Mitchell – a former British fighter pilot who headed Global Hawk development as boss of Ryan Aeronautical – has retired after leading the black-project activities in the company’s Aerospace Systems segment. Then, a March 17 press release announced the appointment of Janis Palimjans – who headed the company’s now-abandoned tanker program – as vice-president for the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program. But the release did not say one word about his predecessor, Scott Winship, who had led the company’s UCAS effort for several years, keeping the project alive as the original joint-service project fell apart and helping convince the Navy to not only fund but expand the program, with an inflight refueling demo and plans for an armed follow-on.  The answer, according to insiders, is that Winship has moved into the black world to take over some or all of Mitchell’s responsibilities. Another stalwart of the Global Hawk program, Carl Johnson, moves from the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance effort (a Global Hawk variant) to advanced air programs. So it appears that Northrop Grumman is moving many of its most experienced, operationally grounded, and most successful advanced technology geeks to create critical mass for both its existing black programs – including, according to multiple sources, a next-generation bomber demonstrator as well as UAVs - and a parallel, semi-white effort to capture the future bomber/ISR prize.

    With Bill Sweetman

    Tags: NorthropGrumman, bomber, ar99

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