PARIS AIR SHOW, Le BOURGET, France, June 16, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector has reached a significant milestone for the United Kingdom's WATCHKEEPER unmanned air vehicle (UAV) program.
The sector has completed the integration and end-to-end air vehicle/payload testing of a General Atomics' all-weather, high-resolution, tactical synthetic aperture radar/moving target indicator (SAR/MTI) on the company's production-configured Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical UAV.
The milestone is part of a larger WATCHKEEPER integration effort designed to demonstrate a tactical SAR payload on a rotary wing UAV. The effort, which began in mid-March, includes all design and analysis tasks, subassembly fabrication, aircraft modifications, system integration and flight test demonstration for combined SAR/MTI and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting operations. The work was performed at the company's Fire Scout System Center in San Diego, Calif.
"This installation demonstrates the flexibility of the Fire Scout to accommodate new payloads and multiple sensor operations on a single tactical UAV," said Tom Soard, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout program manager. "It's one of the characteristics that makes it a desirable, low-risk solution for meeting the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance needs of U.K. warfighters."
The SAR/MTI payload will enhance Fire Scout's ability to perform missions day and night in all weather conditions, while increasing the system's search volume and detection range, he added.
Northrop Grumman shipped the Fire Scout air vehicle to Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md., June 11 for system ground testing and flight test demonstration of the SAR/MTI and EO/IR/laser designator rangefinder (LDRF) payloads scheduled for later this month.
The goals of the current WATCHKEEPER task are to demonstrate that SAR/MTI payload performance is not degraded by installation on a rotary-wing vehicle; display and record SAR imagery at the Fire Scout ground control station; demonstrate ground moving target indicator functionality; and simultaneously operate the baseline Fire Scout EO/IR/LDRF and the SAR/MTI payloads during missions.
The equipment installed by Northrop Grumman includes the General Atomics' AN/APY-8 gimbaled antenna assembly, radar electronics assembly, independent global positioning system, and a Northrop Grumman-designed-and-qualified SAR/MTI interface unit (SIU). The SIU enables the control of the SAR/MTI payload via the existing Fire Scout tactical command data link with minimal modifications to other air vehicle systems.
WATCHKEEPER is a new network-enabled unmanned system being developed by the U.K. Ministry of Defence. It will provide an integrated image intelligence, targeting and exploitation capability to meet the critical information needs of U.K. commanders and warfighters. Northrop Grumman is evaluating several unmanned systems to meet the requirements of the WATCHKEEPER systems architecture, including the U.S. Navy's RQ-8A Fire Scout system. Fire Scout is currently in the flight test phase of engineering and manufacturing development, and the delivery phase of low-rate initial production.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise. As one of Northrop Grumman Corporation's seven sectors, it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems for U.S. government, civil and international customers. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.
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