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Northrop Grumman Firebird Long-Endurance Spy Drone

Northrop Grumman Firebird Long-Endurance Spy Drone

Northrop Grumman unveils its new high-tech surveillance UAV, the Firebird…

Northrop Grumman has unveiled its newest long-endurance spy drone packed with a range of upgraded surveillance systems, and that can be optionally piloted or operated from ground as a conventional UAV.

The Firebird, built for Northrop by Scaled Composites, features real-time high-definition video, infrared and electro-optical sensors, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground moving target indicators (GMT) system, all of which can be use simultaneously. The aircraft also has two weapons points on the wings.

northrop grumman firebird uav-1

Northrop Grumman Firebird UAV

Image Credit: Northrop Grumman, 2011.

Date collected by the aircraft can be transmitted to base, or stored on a universal interface tool that easily docks with computers and other systems.

The Firebird UAV can fly up to 30,000ft, and runs for around 40 hours in UAV mode. Its payload is 1,230 lbs and its wingspan 65ft.

And while the aircraft size may not be as compacts as other UAVs, it ability to house a pilot in the cockpit could allow the aircraft to operate in civilian airspace, a restriction typically placed on all unmanned air vehicles.

The Firebird performed its first flight in February 2010 – just 12 months after the initial concept was put forward. The official demo is scheduled at the Empire Challenge, held by the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Arizona, May 23 – June 3, 2011.



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Source:

  1. Tim Hornyak: Northrop Grumman Firebird UAV lets pilots ride too. Crave, CNet, 05/09/2011.
  2. (GLOBE NEWSWIRE): Northrop Grumman unveils Newest Intel Gathering Aircraft System. Northrop Grumman, 05/09/2011.
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