Northrop Grumman’s Firebird multi-sensor aircraft showcased the versatility of the optionally-manned autonomous system as it flew to various locations across the United States last month. The ability of Firebird to be flown manned through national airspace is a demonstration of its unique operational flexibility for self-deployment and its rapid relocation ability to adapt to specific user needs and operational requirements.
The company flew Firebird almost 9,000 miles around the US with stops in Dayton, Ohio; Washington DC; Patuxent River, Maryland; as well as Tampa, Miami and Key West, Florida.
“Our flights showcased one of its key differentiators – the ability to position the system in a manned configuration, then convert to autonomous operations for persistent ISR in under two hours,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman.
“At each stop, plane-side briefings provided customers the opportunity to see first-hand the operational versatility of the platform, its large sensor bay, and rapid configurability for changing mission needs.”
Firebird is a medium altitude long endurance unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that is designed for flexibility and affordability. Customers can install new payloads in as little as one day, and swap payloads in 30 minutes making the system suitable for numerous domains and missions.
The flights concluded in Key West, Florida where the team conducted a series of manned maritime operational events that included a four-sensor package containing two high-definition EO/IR sensors; a maritime configured multi-spectral sensor for small target detection; and an AIS receiver.
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AFRL Completes XQ-58A Valkyrie Flight and Payload Release Test
Wright-Patterson AFB OH (SPX) Apr 06, 2021
The Air Force Research Laboratory successfully completed the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth flight test and first release from its internal weapons bay, March 26, 2021 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
This test, conducted in partnership with Kratos UAS and Area-I, demonstrated the ability to launch an ALTIUS-600 small, unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) from the internal weapons bay of the XQ-58A.
Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the SUAS carriage and developed software to enable releas … read more