Firebird Blazes Ahead

Northrop Grumman’s Firebird intelligence-gathering aircraft simultaneously engaged three electro-optical sensors, while also operating a fourth payload—a milestone achievement, according to the company. This demonstration took place last month during US Joint Forces Command’s Empire Challenge exercise at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. During a sortie, Firebird showcased its ability to run three high-definition cameras and send live video to ground forces, even via devices such as a mobile phone, according to the company. At the same time, an electronics support payload functioned onboard. “Firebird’s universal interface is what makes this all possible,” said Rick Crooks, Northrop’s Firebird program manager, in the company’s release. He added, “[W]e can place many different sensors on Firebird and operate them in a matter of minutes.” Northrop unveiled the Firebird in May. It’s designed to fly either via a remote operator or a pilot in the cockpit.