SAN DIEGO, Aug. 8, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy have completed the initial phase of at-sea testing that will lead to the first shipboard landing of the Navy's RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system later this year. The tests will demonstrate that Fire Scout can safely conduct autonomous operations at sea.
Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector and the Navy are conducting the tests with the USS Denver (LPD 9) based in San Diego.
The testing consists of three phases: The first phase confirmed the basic suitability of the Fire Scout system for the shipboard environment. A Fire Scout air vehicle and its ground control station (GCS) were loaded aboard the Denver in San Diego harbor, then the ship steamed north to a test range off the coast of Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif. There, the Northrop Grumman/Navy team conducted a series of operations involving the Fire Scout on board the Denver and another Fire Scout system on shore.
Achievements during this phase included the first shipboard engine start and engagement of the rotor, first demonstration of the GCS's ability to remotely control engine starts "ship to shore" and "shore to ship" at distances up to 15 nautical miles, and the first test of the Navy's tactical control system (TCS) software. The TCS software commands operations of the Fire Scout air vehicle and sensor payload. The TCS is provided by Raytheon Co., Falls Church, Va.
The shipboard operations in the first phase also included single point pressure fueling, deck handling and testing for electro-magnetic interference and data link connections. The Northrop Grumman/Navy team met all of its test objectives.
The second phase, scheduled for August, will involve autonomous flights of a Fire Scout air vehicle from Point Mugu into the test range. The flights will include low-speed approaches to the Denver using the UCARS (Unmanned Common Automatic Recovery System) automated ship approach system and the Navy TCS software for controlling the air vehicle.
The final phase, scheduled for September, will involve repeated approaches, landings and takeoffs from the Denver under UCARS and TCS software control.
The at-sea testing is part of the Fire Scout's developmental flight test program, which began in May 2002 and has accumulated more than 69 flights to date.
Flight testing of the UCARS automated ship approach system is also continuing at the Navy's Webster Field annex at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The first Fire Scout flight with the Navy TCS is expected to occur there soon.
The Fire Scout system, in development and low-rate initial production by Northrop Grumman, is envisioned as a force multiplier for Navy forces at sea and U.S. Marine Corps forces ashore. The air vehicle is designed to operate up to 20,000 feet above deployed Marines and provide the capability to watch for threats within 150 nautical miles of the ground control station. The system can direct Navy and Marine weapons accurately to the target with precise target location coordinates or the onboard laser designator.
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, headquartered in Baltimore, provides the Fire Scout's payload, which consists of electro-optical and infrared sensors and a laser designator/range finder.
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.
CONTACT: Cynthia Curiel Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (858) 618-4355 firstname.lastname@example.org