Washington DC (SPX) May 04, 2010
Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter have joined forces to develop and demonstrate Fire-X, a new medium-range vertical unmanned aerial system (VUAS).
The Fire-X system integrates the mature unmanned systems architecture developed in the U.S. Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout program with the Bell 407 helicopter, an FAA-certified helicopter that's been in commercial service since 1996.
Fire-X represents Northrop Grumman's entry in an anticipated competition by the U.S. Navy in 2011 to demonstrate a new medium-range UAS.
Fire-X's first flight is expected by the end of CY2010. The development and demonstration program is being funded entirely by Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter.
Fire-X will carry ISR sensors, but will also offer military users enhanced cargo hauling, payload, and endurance capabilities. It is being designed to operate with nearly any type of current or future military standards-based control segment, including the Navy's Tactical Control Station, and the U.S. Army's One System ground control station
Fire-X will be backed by Bell Helicopter's global logistics support, training, and industry-leading customer service. Bell's customer service has been rated number one for the last 16 years.
"Fire-X will be an affordable, low-risk, fast-fielding system that delivers the maturity of the unmanned systems architecture developed by the U.S. Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout program, and the extra UAS cargo, payload and endurance that military services seek." - Gene Fraser, sector vice president and general manager, Advanced Programs and Technology Division, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
"Bell Helicopter brings to the Fire-X development more than 50 years of experience producing and supporting U.S. military helicopters across the full rotary-wing aviation mission spectrum, including armed reconnaissance, attack, utility, and MedEvac." - Jeff Lowinger, executive vice president for engineering, Bell Helicopter.
"Fire-X builds on more than 60 years of Northrop Grumman experience designing, developing and producing unmanned systems. It is the latest in an evolving family of unmanned systems with Northrop Grumman Know-How on board." - Gene Fraser, sector vice president and general manager, Advanced Programs and Technology Division, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
"The Fire-X demonstration will illustrate how a marriage of manned and unmanned technologies can increase the capability, reduce the risks, and extend the utility of commercially available helicopters." - Jeff Lowinger, executive vice president for engineering, Bell Helicopter.
"Fire-X delivers what military planners want, and what war fighters need: a reliable, low-cost vertical unmanned system that's versatile enough to support the diverse ISR, cargo, and communications requirements of land and sea forces, while being rugged and persistent enough to stay in the fight until the mission is complete." - Gene Fraser, sector vice president and general manager, Advanced Programs and Technology Division, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
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