MOSS POINT, Miss., Sept. 10, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- A cooperative effort between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) resulted in the first ever transport of a Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) in a Marine Corps KC-130T aircraft, flown by Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234, Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.

As part of an ongoing Navy Fire Scout contract, this aircraft was transported from Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., to Naval Air Station Patuxent River for flight test operations. The Navy is continuing Fire Scout developmental testing at nearby Webster Field, St. Inigoes, Md.

A Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout was first loaded onto the KC-130T followed by an Army MQ-8B Future Combat Systems (FCS) Class IV UAV. Only the Navy Fire Scout was airlifted, but loading both vehicles demonstrated that a KC-130T tandem loadout is possible. Because transportation requirements for the KC-130 are the most restrictive, this flight certification will be updated to include other aircraft such as the C-5 and C-17. The vehicles were loaded using common procedures for both services, further demonstrating the versatility of the Fire Scout design. This activity allowed the Army to review MQ-8B FCS Class IV UAV transport capabilities early in the development process.

"This multi-service collaborative flight is a significant milestone for the Navy's VTUAV program and the Army's FCS Class IV UAV program," said Doug Fronius, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout VTUAV program director. "We are proud to be part of such an endeavor and are looking forward to highlighting the future possibilities for the MQ-8B Fire Scout in support of multi-service requirements."

The transport included Navy, Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Defense and Northrop Grumman personnel associated with the development of procedures, test plans, and equipment required for air transport of the MQ-8B Fire Scout.

System design work on the Fire Scout is performed at Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems Western Region Unmanned Systems Development Center in San Diego. The Fire Scout is assembled at Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. Fire Scout is based on a commercial-off-the-shelf Schweizer 333 manned helicopter, a highly reliable and effective platform with an extensive operating history, manufactured in Horseheads, N.Y.

The Northrop Grumman Fire Scout industry team includes Cubic Corporation, FLIR Systems, Kearfott, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Rolls-Royce, SBS Technologies, Schweizer Aircraft Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation, General Electric and Sechan Electronics. The program is managed by the Navy's PMA-263 Unmanned Vehicles program office, Program Executive Office, Strike Warfare and Unmanned Aviation, at Patuxent River, Md. The Army Class IV UAV is one of the systems included in the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, managed by the Program Management Office, Future Combat Systems (Brigade Combat Team), in St. Louis, Mo.

Initial quantities of MQ-8B Fire Scouts are currently on order (for both the Army and Navy) for assembly in the Moss Point facility.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Rene Freeland
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (858) 618-7606