Northrop Puts ‘Firebird’ Aircraft Through Data Collection Missions

Firebird aircraft
Firebird aircraft

Northrop Grumman has conducted a series of flight tests that showcased the ability of its Firebird intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to collect data over a four-day demonstration period.

The Firebird system gathered data during four crewed flights that lasted for more than 10 hours as part of missions such as high-value subject tracking, fire hotspot detection and route clearance, Northrop said Tuesday.

For a single-day exercise, Northrop equipped the aircraft with an Overwatch Imaging-built TK-9 Earthwatch sensor that features an artificial intelligence-based image processing engine technology.

“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,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Northrop.

The aircraft is designed to operate for more than 30 hours at an altitude of up to 25K feet.

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