Northrop Grumman Unveils Newest Intel Gathering Aircraft System

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Someoneforyou, May 10, 2011.

  1. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    UNITED STATES - 9 MAY 2011

    Firebird is set for an operational demonstration in an optionally-piloted configuration from May 23 – June 3, 2011, during Empire Challenge 2011, a military exercise run by U.S. Joint Forces Command.

    SAN DIEGO, May 9, 2011 -- Military users will be able to get real-time high-definition video, view infrared imagery, use radar and even listen in on communications signals – all at the same time – using a new intelligence-gathering aircraft system unveiled today by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).

    Firebird offers a large internal payload bay and an ability to operate multiple intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and communications payloads simultaneously through a universal interface. The system is designed to be flown as a manned or unmanned aircraft.

    As lead for the Firebird program, Northrop Grumman developed the unmanned systems architecture, control and mission systems. The company chose Scaled Composites to design, build and test the aircraft – with first flight occurring just 12 months after the initial concept discussions.

    "We've harnessed the innovative techniques of Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites to deliver an unprecedented information-gathering capability," said Paul Meyer, vice president and general manager of advanced programs and technology for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "Firebird addresses future budgetary constraints by combining the best of our piloted and unmanned ISR systems into a single solution ready for a variety of ISR missions."

    Firebird's universal interface is similar to plugging a memory stick into a personal computer that is automatically recognized without needing to load additional software.

    "Not only have we increased the number of ISR sensors working simultaneously in an aircraft of this size, but we can also incorporate various sensors that complement each other – greatly enhancing Firebird's information-gathering value for warfighters," said Rick Crooks, Northrop Grumman's Firebird program manager. "Firebird is an adaptable system that makes it highly affordable because of the number of different missions it can accomplish during a single flight. It's a real game changer."

    From inception, Firebird was designed to be flown as a manned or unmanned aircraft and can be quickly modified for either option.

    "Military users will also find it much easier to exploit intelligence data from Firebird because the information is put into a single tool that allows them to easily make decisions," said Crooks. "The internal payload bay also does away with the need to carry external pods to house sensor payloads that can cause drag and affect how long the aircraft can stay in the air."

    Firebird is set for an operational demonstration in an optionally-piloted configuration from May 23 – June 3, 2011, during Empire Challenge 2011, a military exercise run by U.S. Joint Forces Command.


    The Firebird is a propeller-powered spy plane that will be able to carry missiles.
    [​IMG]


    Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
     
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  3. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    Northrop Grumman Showcases Firebird and Other Emerging ISR Solutions during U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2011 (EC11) exercise
    United States - 7 June 2011

    Fort Huachuca, Ariz. - During U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2011 (EC11) exercise conducted here, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) integrated emerging mission solutions into a real-world environment to showcase how new technologies can help warfighters better perform their jobs.

    "Empire Challenge not only allows the warfighter to directly participate in various concepts of operations, but it also offers Northrop Grumman the chance to collect feedback from the user community on the introduction of a range of information, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] collection and processing, exploitation and dissemination solutions," said Chris Frangos, chief architect of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

    Empire Challenge embodied two connected efforts -- a demonstration using live assets like the company's newest intelligence-gathering aircraft system, Firebird, and a complex irregular warfare virtual environment.

    Northrop Grumman developed the virtual environment to increase the density and the complexity of the scenarios. It was also designed to exploit the tactics, techniques and procedures to develop new capabilities that cannot be demonstrated live. The virtual environment embodied simulations of other company ISR systems such the Bat Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Global Hawk UAS and Joint STARS. Data from both simulated systems and live assets like Firebird were integrated directly into government information networks. The data were then analyzed, exploited and disseminated to showcase how new technologies can help warfighters.

    Rick Crooks, director of special projects and Firebird program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector, explained that EC11 allows soldiers the opportunity to control, access and utilize Firebird's intelligence-gathering capabilities in a real-world environment.

    "Firebird's design is meant to reduce costs and increase efficiency by advancing key technologies that better meet warfighter needs," said Crooks. "The system's universal interface allows us to quickly change, operate and share information from multiple sensors on board a single aircraft. EC11 is a fast-paced, real-world environment where Firebird's concept of operations and mission preparedness have been successfully tested."



    Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
     
  5. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    Northrop Grumman's Firebird Successfully Uses Three Eyes and Fourth Sensor Payload
    UNITED STATES - 14 JUNE 2011

    Intelligence-Gathering Sensors Can be Installed, Used in Matter of Minutes

    SAN DIEGO, June 14, 2011 -- The Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) Firebird intelligence-gathering air system successfully used three different high-definition video sensors and an electronics support payload all at the same time – a future capability sought by the U.S. military that's available today.

    The flight marks the first time three electro-optical, infrared sensors have been used simultaneously with a fourth payload on an aircraft. This capability was proven on May 20 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., with additional missions through June 3 as part of the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2011 exercise.

    "Firebird's universal interface is what makes this all possible," said Rick Crooks, director of special projects and Firebird program manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "It's very similar to plugging a memory stick into a computer – it's automatically recognized without needing to load new software. With this 'plug-and-play' technology we can place many different sensors on Firebird and operate them in a matter of minutes."

    Crooks explained that this capability is important to warfighters because it significantly reduces the time needed to replace sensors so they can ready Firebird quickly for different missions. The flight team can install the three high-definition full-motion video (HD FMV) sensors along with a communications payload in less than an hour.

    During Empire Challenge, the Firebird team also showed how real-time HD video could be sent to different locations including a ground control station, remote terminals, a tablet computer and a cellular phone. Control of the sensors was done independently through the ground station and remote terminals.

    "Not only can soldiers on the ground and aircraft crews see the video and data, but they also control the sensors independently," said Crooks. "This two-way control really puts the power of Firebird's systems in their hands. By being able to go through a remote terminal or a cellular phone, we've made it possible for soldiers on the front-line to more effectively use these systems to gain the edge they need."

    The three HD FMV sensors were supplied by FLIR Systems, with the fourth payload being the Northrop Grumman-produced Common Signals Intelligence System 1500 that provided an electronics support and direction finding capability.

    The team was able to switch between eight different sensors during the exercise. To date, Firebird has used 15 different intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads.

    Northrop Grumman leads the Firebird program with teammate Scaled Composites – the aircraft innovation firm founded by famed engineer Burt Rutan who designed SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded spacecraft.
    Firebird was intentionally designed to be flown as a manned or unmanned air system. It can be easily modified for both flight modes.



    The Firebird intelligence gathering air system successfully used three different high-definition video sensors and an electronics support payload all at the same time.
    [​IMG]


    Video: Northrop Grumman's Firebird Successfully Uses Three Eyes and Fourth Sensor Payload



    Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
     
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  6. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    STARLite Radar Demonstrates Dismount Tracking at Empire Challenge 2011
    UNITED STATES - 16 AUGUST 2011

    FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz., Aug. 16, 2011 -- At the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2011, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) successfully demonstrated the ability of its STARLite radar to provide Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) data and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery to ground commanders in real time.

    Flying on the company's Firebird optionally manned aircraft, STARLite demonstrated its Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI) capability from a moving platform for the first time in a joint exercise.

    STARLite also demonstrated its ability to cue other sensors on an aircraft and to function as part of a networked system using standard protocols. Empire Challenge marked the first time STARLite transmitted information through a Tactical Common Data Link from an unmanned aircraft under operational conditions.

    "Our experience at Empire Challenge proved again that STARLite can give commanders the information they need to make tactical decisions in real time," said John Jadik, vice president of weapons and sensors for Northrop Grumman's Land and Self Protection Systems Division. "STARLite is the only production radar in its class that offers warfighters this combination of SAR, GMTI and DMTI capability."

    During Empire Challenge, two different STARLite configurations were demonstrated. The baseline system plus an extended range antenna that will double the range capability of the radar took part in the exercise.

    Northrop Grumman's AN/ZPY-1 STARLite Small Tactical Radar – Lightweight is the U.S. Army program of record for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System. Each STARLite radar comes equipped with a complete software package for interfacing with U.S. Army systems, enabling easy operator control of the SAR maps and ground moving target detection features on standard Army maps.

    The AN/ZPY-1 leverages Northrop Grumman's experience acquired from the company's proven Tactical Endurance Synthetic Aperture Radar and the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Radar programs.



    Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
     

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