Northrop Grumman’s FIREBIRD UAS recently completed a series of multi-mission demonstrations, including the integration of a new sensor in a single day, showcasing the power of the unmanned system’s open architecture.

Overwatch Imaging’s TK-9 EARTHWATCH sensor was integrated with the UAS in one day as part of ongoing capability flights validating the wide range of missions the FIREBIRD system can perform for government and commercial customers.

During this exercise we rapidly integrated sensors and utilized FIREBIRD’s operational flexibility to demonstrate the system’s unique capability,” commented Jane Bishop, VP and General Manager, Autonomous Systems at Northrop Grumman. “We leveraged FIREBIRD’s communications suite and data processing power to patch in customers to our virtual feed so they were able to view flight activities in real time.”

Over a four-day period, FIREBIRD demonstrated several data collection missions, including wide-area surveillance, pattern-of-life monitoring, route clearance, search and rescue, high-value subject tracking, hostage recovery and fire hotspot detection. The team carried out four 10+ hour manned flights with 100% percent aircraft availability for day and night operations.

The FIREBIRD product line delivers medium altitude, long endurance multi-mission flexibility and affordability. Available in autonomous and optionally-piloted configurations, FIREBIRD is designed to deliver critical ISR capability to meet customer needs. The system delivers 30+ hours of endurance and flies up to 25,000ft, providing customers with near real-time actionable intelligence.

Overwatch Imaging provides automated airborne imaging systems for piloted and unmanned aircraft. The TK-9 EARTHWATCH sensor has a flexible onboard AI-enabled automatic image processing engine that allows the system to adapt to new roles in new environments very quickly, from natural disaster emergency management to border security patrol and large-scale infrastructure inspection.

FIREBIRD demonstrated flexibility and the ability to act as a force multiplier during a series of tests and validation exercises, showcasing the benefits accruing from the platform’s open architecture. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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