WASHINGTON, 13 Aug. 2009 Northrop Grumman's (NYSE:NOC) land-based MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Aircraft System (VUAS), designated P7, successfully demonstrated its reconnaissance surveillance, and target acquisition/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (RSTA/ISR) capabilities this week at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz.
Northrop Grumman officials made the announcement at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America conference and exhibition this week in Washington.
This RSTA/ISR demonstration was conducted with the use of a high-magnification electro-optical, infrared (EO/IR) payload, which includes a long range laser designator and rangefinder (LR/LD). Full motion video was relayed down to ground operators in real time over a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). After an autonomous launch, Fire Scout demonstrated its ability to find, fix, and track hostile forces during a real-time operational scenario in complex terrain at night. Fire Scout has the capability to support several different RSTA payloads including FLIR System's BRITE Star II EO/IR/LR/LD, Northrop Grumman's ASTAMIDS EO/IR/LR/LD (which also provides countermine capabilities), and FLIR System's Star SAFIRE III EO/IR/LR. Additional payloads can be easily integrated using Fire Scout's robust open systems modular payload architecture. This flexibility also enhances Fire Scout's ability to support the warfighter.
Fire Scout's RSTA/ISR demonstration highlighted its capability to provide critical real-time RSTA to brigade combat teams (BCT). Fire Scout provides the commander with a view of a selected area across all wavelength spectrums enabling decision-making and integration of soldiers' actions with supporting BCT fires and effects.
"Fire Scout's ability to move at reduced rates of speed and its multi-functional plug-and-play payload suite provide the warfighter greater options compared to other unmanned aircraft systems," says Mike Howell, business development manager for Army systems at Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Fire Scout's ability to operate at low ground speeds and ability to operate in remote, unprepared landing zones allows it to move with the brigade and easily acquire and track targets in complex and urban terrain."
The P7 Fire Scout capability demonstrations will continue throughout the summer with missions focused on advantages the VUAS will provide to land-component warfighters. Continued simultaneous flight operations of P7 and the maritime-configured P6 underscore MQ-8B Fire Scout's versatility, readiness for deployment and its joint role as a program of record for both the Navy and the Army.