The Pentagon said Wednesday that a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. won a contract to provide a communications network to be used on Air Force military drones. The deal is valued at $276 million.

Northrop's Battlefield Airborne Communications Node System is a prototype of a remotely accessed, high-altitude and tactical communications network that will be used on unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Air Force has increasingly turned to drones to deal with the rough terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan and protect troops. Northrop will install the system in three Bombardier aircraft and two Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles.

Northrop shares closed down 37 cents, or less than 1 percent to $44.89 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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