SAN DIEGO, Feb. 10, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector continued its successful flight testing of the U.S. Navy RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned system in January with the first flights of the second engineering and manufacturing development air vehicle (E-2); the first flight fully operated with the U.S. Navy S-280 ground control station, and a three-hour flight to demonstrate ship-landing approach profiles and wave-off maneuvers. All tests were conducted at the Webster Field annex of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
During the flight operated by the Navy ground control station, the tactical control datalink was used to uplink payload command and control and to downlink imagery. The ARC-210 datalink was used for air vehicle command and control. This test was the first time both datalinks were used for uplink command and control, demonstrating the versatility and robustness of the system's datalink suite.
Fire Scout ground control system software integrated in the S-280 was used for the first time for air vehicle command and control. Use of this command and control software will significantly reduce risk as the system is prepared to qualify and test the tactical control system software during flight test later this spring.
During the system's three-hour flight, the aircraft successfully conducted more than 20 approaches and wave-off profiles and successfully executed over 200 waypoints in preparation for planned testing of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Common Automatic Recovery System (UCARS). Fire Scout uses UCARS to land aboard ships. Fire Scout will demonstrate shipboard landings with UCARS and the Light Harpoon restraint system later this year.
The Fire Scout payload, which is supplied by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, Baltimore, Md., consists of electro-optical and infrared sensors and a laser designator/rangefinder, which provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery and data.
As in previous Fire Scout flight tests, each of these fully autonomous missions included vertical takeoff, accurate navigation and return to a predetermined hover point in preparation for landing -- all without operator intervention.
The ongoing flight series has successfully demonstrated the system's ability to take off, fly, navigate and land autonomously and collect imagery from its onboard sensor payload. Flight tests to demonstrate weapons targeting are also being considered for later this year.
Flying at altitudes up to 20,000 feet, Fire Scout can employ its advanced payload to provide intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and precise targeting information with pinpoint accuracy. The Fire Scout's communications suite is designed to allow simultaneous voice/data communications relay much farther than the "line of sight" limits of current systems.
Fully autonomous, Fire Scout can fly high above deployed Marines to watch for threats within 150 nautical miles of the ground control station. The system then directs Navy and Marine weapons accurately to the target with precise target location coordinates or the laser designator.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise with the capabilities to design, develop, integrate, produce and support fully missionized integrated systems and subsystems. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services in support of chosen segments within the broad market areas of battlespace awareness, command and control systems and integrated combat systems.
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CONTACT: Jim Hart Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (310) 331-3616