MELHCORP, a Stennis Incubator Company, Secures Work on the Hunter UAV

Stennis Space Center, MS — For Julio Melhado, there is a certain satisfaction garnered from protecting the lives of soldiers abroad. The technical work his company performs from Stennis Space Center on the U.S. Army’s Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) does just that – helps save lives. “One of our greatest achievements was receiving a call that a convoy of our guys was kept out of harm’s way thanks to one of our payload operation modules,” said Melhado, president of MELHCORP. “It does fill us with pride to be able to say someone’s kid is coming home safe to his family from the war, and we had something to do with it.”

The payload operation modules Melhado references are responsible for monitoring, controlling, and communicating between many payloads onboard the Hunter UAV as well as reporting and command interpretation to the ground stations. MELHCORP recently received purchase orders by Army contractor Northrop Grumman Technical Services to design, manufacture, maintain, and support three different types of payload interface components for the UAV. Northrop Grumman operates and maintains the Hunter from its location in Sierra Vista, Arizona. MELHCORP’s Payload Interface Unit is not associated with flight control but helps control the mounted payloads that include electronics and sensors. Northrop Grumman has been using the services of Melhado’s company since its creation, and the company awarded MELHCORP a World Class Team Award in 2005.

The Hunter UAV is used in Intellligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance searches for the U.S. Army. As described by Global News Wire, the MQ-5B Hunter, which is currently deployed in contingency operations, provides warfighters with state-of-the-art reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA), communications relay, signal intelligence, and weapons delivery. Hunter recently surpassed 80,000 flight hours, 53,000 of which are combat-related.

MELHCORP is a 2004 start-up company that is beginning its second year of incubation at the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MsET) facility at Stennis Space Center and has been an SBA-certified Small Disadvantaged Business since its inception in Slidell, La. The company’s background is in the design and manufacture of electronic systems for harsh environments, and after Hurricane Katrina Melhado chose Stennis as a secure place to further build his business. The systems involve software and hardware for interfacing to multiple communication protocols, line of sight and satellite telemetry, sensor design and integration, and low power design. “This is the experience that has allowed us to put our systems on aircrafts, ground stations, buoys, and unattended deployable sensors,” explained Melhado. “We deal with extreme environments in the form of low and high temperature, shock and vibration, and sand and water intrusion – while at the same time producing software and systems that are dependable.”

“The software and hardware design is a unique know-how that Julio has built MELHCORP upon,” said Charlie Beasley, president of MsET. “The Hunter work and their plans for growth are certainly a great fit for the MsET incubator and our Center of Excellence in Geospatial Technologies.” MsET, a private, non-profit corporation, has operated the small business incubator at Stennis Space Center for 15 years and serves as the Technology Transfer Office for the State of Mississippi. MsET focuses on business and job creation and overall economic development of the region by developing active partnerships and leveraging the assets of Stennis.

Pictured (from left): Julio Melhado of MELHCORP and Carlos Rodriguez of Northrop Grumman – Click to view larger photo

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