Northrop Grumman gets Navy order for two Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 15 Dec. 2006. U.S. Navy leaders ordered two RQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters from manufacturer Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Dec. 14 under terms of a $16.2 million contract modification.

Dec 15th, 2006

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 15 Dec. 2006. U.S. Navy leaders ordered two RQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters from manufacturer Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Dec. 14 under terms of a $16.2 million contract modification.

The Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) system in the near future will provide situational awareness and targeting support for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army of the future.

The first shipboard takeoffs and landings of the Fire Scout were in 2003 aboard the Navy's amphibious transport dock USS Denver.

Fire Scout's Model 379 air vehicle, based on the Schweizer Model 333 manned helicopter, can autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship and at unprepared landing zones near the forward edges of battlefields, Northrop Grumman officials say.

The autonomous unmanned helicopter has a total endurance of eight hours, and will be able to linger for five hours at 110 nautical miles from the launch site. The aircraft has a baseline payload that includes infrared and other electro-optical sensors and a laser designator/range finder to enable Fire Scout to find tactical targets, track and designate targets, provide targeting data to attack aircraft and artillery, and assess battle damage.

The UAV also can function as a communications node and a communications relay within the proposed network-centric warfare battle space of the future to increase the effectiveness, range, and flexibility of other weapon systems.

Northrop Grumman first started developing Fire Scout in 2000, and moved the UAV into developmental production the next year when the company received a Navy order for three aircraft, two ground control stations, a data link suite, remote data terminals and modular mission payloads. In July 2005, the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $15.2 million contract for two more RQ-8B Fire Scouts.

In August 2003 the U.S. Army chose Fire Scout as a Class IV unmanned air system for the Future Combat System -- a key element of the Army's tactical intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting architecture. Fire Scout is to provide the Army with real-time imagery and data collection and dissemination at the brigade level.

Under an eight-year $115 million contract from FCS lead systems integrators Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp., Northrop Grumman will build eight RQ-8B Fire Scouts for FCS, which are similar to the RQ-8A Fire Scouts Northrop Grumman is producing for the Navy.

The FCS air vehicles will feature a four-blade rotor system (versus the RQ-8A's three-blade design), improved airfoil blades and several performance enhancements that enable more than eight hours endurance with a payload weight of 130 pounds.

In summer 2005, the Fire Scout program completed several key milestones. The first was a successful flight demonstration during the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's flight demonstration day at Webster Outlying Field (OLF) near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

Additionally, a company-funded $2.1 million Army FCS Fire Scout Integration Laboratory opened at Northrop Grumman's San Diego facility to further refine Fire Scout for the Army. Most notably, Fire Scout successfully test fired two 2.75-inch unguided rockets at Arizona's Yuma Proving Grounds. This was the first time a completely autonomous vertical take off UAV successfully test fired weapons of this nature.

Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout team includes Schweizer Aircraft Corporation of, Horseheads, N.Y.; Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego N.Y.; L-3 Communications in Salt Lake City; and Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev. Work on the latest Navy contract will be in San Diego, and will be finished in 2008.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Corp. online at www.northropgrumman.com.

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