SAN DIEGO, April 1, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector and subcontractor teammate Schweizer Aircraft Corp. have successfully tested a four-blade rotor upgrade that will increase the payload capacity, speed, range, altitude and endurance of the U.S. Navy RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system.
The upgrade is compatible with the existing Fire Scout engine and transmission, and requires no major mechanical or structural changes to the airframe. Fire Scout currently uses a three-blade rotor configuration.
The Northrop Grumman/Schweizer team conducted ground, hover, taxi and flight evaluation of the four-bladed rotor hub mounted on a Schweizer Model 333 helicopter at Schweizer's Horseheads, N.Y., facility during the last week of March. To date, the team has conducted six flights with the aircraft reaching speeds up to 90 knots and altitudes up to 1,500 feet.
"These test flights mark the latest success in what has been flawless flight test program for the Fire Scout system," said T. Scott Winship, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout program manager. "Since we began our test program last May, the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman team has conducted 40 successful test flights." Preparations are being made to begin shipboard testing in April at the Webster Field UAV test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., he added.
According to Winship, the continuing flight test program has successfully demonstrated Fire Scout's ability to take off, fly, navigate and land autonomously while collecting and disseminating imagery from its onboard sensor payload. Flight tests to demonstrate laser targeting and designation are scheduled in May. A weapons delivery demonstration is planned for later this year.
Fully autonomous, Fire Scout can fly at altitudes up to 20,000 feet. Its advanced payload can provide intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and precise targeting information to tactical units either onboard ship or deployed in the field. The air vehicle's communications suite provides a simultaneous voice/data communications relay capability that reaches much farther than current "line of sight" systems.
The Fire Scout system is produced by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems' Unmanned Systems unit in San Diego, Calif. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., the Integrated Systems sector 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: Cynthia Curiel Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (858) 618-4355 or (858) 518-9722