Northrop Grumman, October 01, 2002 - SAN DIEGO (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems sector, prime contractor for the U.S. Navy's RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned system, announced it has completed work on the first Fire Scout air vehicle built in the full production configuration.
Following a brief rollout ceremony Sept. 30 at the company's Unmanned Systems facility here, the vehicle was shipped to Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., where it will join a flight test program already under way with a company-owned Fire Scout vehicle that has completed five autonomously controlled flights since May.
"This is an important milestone for Northrop Grumman and for our customers," said T. Scott Winship, director and Fire Scout program manager at Northrop Grumman. "The first production-configuration vehicle is a critical element of the program's continued success and imperative to Fire Scout's future performance both as a demonstration system and as a potential operational asset for the Navy and Marine Corps."
"Full production configuration" means the air vehicle was built to the same operational reliability specifications required for production, including its sensor payload, vehicle management system and dual redundant avionics and flight control systems.
The Fire Scout system is in development and low-rate initial production as a force multiplier for Navy forces at sea and Marine Corps forces ashore.
The ongoing flight series at the China Lake test range includes a number of important tests and has demonstrated the system's ability to take off, fly, navigate and land autonomously and collect imagery from its onboard sensor payload. The Fire Scout payload, which is supplied by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, Baltimore, Md., consists of electro-optical and infrared sensors and a laser designator/rangefinder, which provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery and data.
Additional flight tests to support engineering and manufacturing development are planned this fall. Flight tests to demonstrate weapons targeting and delivery as well as shipboard landings are also being considered.
Flying at altitudes up to 20,000 feet, Fire Scout employs an advanced payload with an electro-optical/infrared sensor including a laser designator/rangefinder to provide intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance with pinpoint accuracy. This demonstrated system provides military decision-makers real-time information and targeting of enemy resources and personnel on the ground. The Fire Scout's communications suite allows simultaneous voice/data relay much farther than the "line of sight" limits of current systems.
Fully autonomous, Fire Scout can fly high above deployed Marines to watch for threats within 150 nautical miles of the ground control station. The system then directs Navy and Marine weapons accurately to the target with precise target location coordinates or the laser designator. Fire Scout was designed to respond to Navy and Marine Corps emerging requirements. A complete system includes three UAVs, two ground control stations, a datalink suite and modular mission payloads.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise. Integrated Systems has the capabilities to design, develop, integrate, produce and support complete systems, as well as airframe subsystems, for airborne surveillance and battle management, early warning, airborne electronic warfare and air combat aircraft. It is also integrating these capabilities for emerging network-centric warfare concepts.