The US Navy’s MQ-82 “Fire Scout” Powers Up For The First Time

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout test preparations at Naval BasWARBIRD RADIO – The U.S. Navy’s first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter was powered up by Northrop Grumman and it even rotated rotated it’s four blades for the first time during initial ground testing and engine runs at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif., Sept. 20.

According a recent news release, conducting initial engine runs of the aircraft allows engineers to collect data to ensure that all the aircraft’s systems are functioning and communicating properly prior to its first flight.

“Completion of these tests signifies our steady progress toward the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president of medium range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman. “We continue to work closely with our Navy customer, ensuring that the Fire Scout system is checked out and ready before operational use.”

This latest aircraft upgrade to the Fire Scout system provides the Navy with more than twice the endurance and three times the payload carrying capacity, enabling an unprecedented level of persistent surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance capability.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s prime contractor for the Fire Scout program and is currently under contract to produce MQ-8C aircraft for deployment beginning in 2014.

Northrop Grumman Releases New Book On B-2 Spirit!

BWARBIRD RADIO – Northrop Grumman Corporation today released a new book about the people and innovation that helped create the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber, one of most powerful and survivable aircraft ever produced.  According to a recent news release:

Entitled “B-2: The Spirit of Innovation,” the book was written by political analyst Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research, and the author of several books about bomber warfare, including “The B-2 Goes to War,” published in 2001. The book was made available to attendees of the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference at National Harbor, Md.

“The development of the B-2 led to an extraordinary and enduring partnership among Northrop Grumman, Air Force and Pentagon leaders,” said Dave Mazur, vice president and Northrop Grumman’s B-2 program manager. “Through invention, discovery and innovation, the team delivered a revolution in airpower that remains one of the nation’s most effective deterrent forces.”

Northrop Grumman, the Air Force’s B-2 prime contractor, published the book as part of Air Force Global Strike Command’s celebration of 2013 as the “Year of the B-2.” It is now available for download at the Quick Link below.

“B-2: The Spirit of Innovation” is based on interviews with former Northrop Grumman, Air Force and Pentagon officials. It explores the political and engineering passions that fueled the competition to produce a bomber that could defeat increasingly sophisticated Soviet air defense systems of the early ’80s.

From the early Experimental Survivable Testbed that laid groundwork for the F-117 stealth fighter, to the development of Tacit Blue, a technological forerunner to the B-2, the name of the game was stealth: understanding how best to minimize the radar cross section of an aircraft, and manage its electromagnetic signature.

“It was pioneering work. Every day was a discovery,” said John Cashen, who served as chief scientist for Northrop Grumman’s B-2 program.

The book traces the evolution of Northrop Grumman’s B-2 flying wing design – the shape closest to radar engineers’ ideal for no reflections, an infinite flat plate – and other technologies that enable the aircraft’s stealth missions today.

It also discusses the technology challenges, engineering breakthroughs, and shifting customer requirements that drove the pace and tenor of the massive and highly secretive B-2 program.

In 1983, for example, the Air Force added a new combat requirement for the B-2: it needed to be able to fly at high subsonic speeds at low altitude. The new requirement led to a significant redesign of the bomber, but, serendipitously, also a much better performing aircraft.

The book takes readers through events leading up to first flight, and the subsequent challenges of flight test and full-scale production. It also provides highlights of the bomber’s successful operational career, which debuted in March 1999 during the Kosovo War.

“The B-2 was and is unique,” writes Grant, “a success born out of necessity, and facilitated by a dedicated, capable government-contractor team – a steppingstone to a next generation of air dominance.”

QUICK LINK:  B-2 Book

Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B Fire Scout Surpasses 5,000 Flight Hours

MWARBIRD RADIO – According to a recent news release the Northrop Grumman Corporation built MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter surpassed 5,000 flight hours while providing critical surveillance capabilities to field commanders in Afghanistan.

Since deploying to Afghanistan in 2011, the MQ-8 Fire Scout system has provided real-time airborne surveillance and targeting supporting counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), provided targeting support and delivered real-time video to military forces on the ground.

“Fire Scout’s versatility makes it an ideal intelligence-gathering asset for military units on the front line, both on land and at sea,” said Capt. Patrick Smith, program manager, Naval Air Systems Command. “This is a great accomplishment for the entire team and we have leveraged many lessons learned while we develop a more capable Fire Scout system.”

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor on the Navy’s Fire Scout program. In 2011, the Navy contracted with Northrop Grumman to support Fire Scout deployment to Afghanistan and provide local commanders with real-time intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. In the 28 months of deployment, the Navy-Northrop Grumman team provided 5,084 hours of support to U.S. and allied forces.

Additionally, Northrop Grumman is under contract to the Navy to build the first eight of 30 planned Endurance Upgrade Fire Scouts. Those aircraft, which have been designated the MQ-8C, will have twice the endurance, three times the payload capability, and will be ready for operation next year.

“Navy commanders value Fire Scout’s capabilities and recognized early on that a larger helicopter would allow the system to fly longer and carry even larger intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium-range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman. “What we’ve already done with the current system will be carried over to the new Fire Scout.”

Combined with testing and Fire Scout’s six at-sea deployments aboard Navy frigates, the system has eclipsed 10,000 flight hours supporting naval and ground commanders with critical intelligence-gathering capabilities to respond to threats.

Italy’s First F-35 Lightning Now In Final Assembly Facility at Cameri Air Base

ItalianF-35WARBIRD RADIO – Northrop Grumman Corporation announcing in a recent news release the delivery of the center fuselage for Italy’s first F-35 Lightning II to the newly commissioned Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Italy’s Cameri Air Base July 12. This on-time delivery to Lockheed Martin enables the first assembly of an F-35 aircraft at the FACO facility and increases international participation on the F-35 program.

The center fuselage, AL-1, will be integrated into a conventional takeoff and landing variant of the F-35, and represents the first of 90 center fuselage sections that will be delivered to the Italian FACO facility for Italian aircraft.

“We started working on AL-1 in September 2012, when it was inducted into our Integrated Assembly Line [IAL] at our Palmdale facility,” said Michelle Scarpella, vice president of the F-35 program for Northrop Grumman. “It’s the 115th center fuselage we’ve completed here in Palmdale, and marks another program milestone, as we continue to stand up and grow international F-35 participation.”

The IAL maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional assembly capability while meeting engineering tolerances that are not easily achieved using manual methods. The IAL is central in producing the F-35’s center fuselage as well as increasing the program’s affordability, quality and efficiency. Currently, there are 35 center fuselages in flow on the IAL, including some for Australia and additional ones for Italy; deliveries have already been made to Ft Worth for final assembly and delivery to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Set on 101 acres in Italy’s Piedmont region, the FACO facility at Cameri will be one of a kind in Europe. With 22 buildings, more than a million square feet of covered work space, 11 final assembly workstations – including four outfitted for electronic mate and assembly – and five maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade bays, the FACO at Cameri is positioned to serve as a new hub for the Italian aerospace industry.

As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman performs a significant share of the work required to develop and produce the aircraft. In addition to manufacturing the F-35 center fuselage, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the aircraft’s radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications, navigation and identification subsystems. Northrop Grumman also develops mission systems and mission planning software, leads the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware, and manages the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies. In 2012, the company delivered 32 center fuselages and is on track to exceed 2012 delivery quantities in 2013.

Northrop Grumman’s SABR Brings 5th Generation Fighter Radar To F-16

SABRRadarWARBIRD RADIO – Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) designed for the F-16 fighter aircraft recently demonstrated its autonomous, all-environment precision targeting capability, which will enhance the aircraft’s mission capabilities.  The capability, known as Auto Target Cueing (ATC), uses high-definition synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images to locate and prioritize targets of interest and display them to the pilot. The active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar architecture allows it to carry out this function while performing other tasks at the same time.

“With SABR, we have built on our F-35 radar investment to bring fifth generation fighter radar capabilities such as ATC to the F-16,” said Joseph Ensor, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting Systems Division. “Features like ATC, along with the F-35 modes that we have ported to SABR, will enable greater mission effectiveness, reduce pilot workload and provide a better level of situational awareness than F-16 pilots have ever had.”

SABR’s a multifunction AESA radar designed specifically for F-16 retrofit. SABR provides longer detection and tracking ranges, high-resolution SAR maps for all-environment precision targeting, interleaved mode operations for greater situational awareness and greater reliability.

Northrop Grumman has nearly four decades of F-16 radar development and integration experience, and has delivered more than 6,000 fire control radars to U.S. and international air forces. The company also supplies the AESA fire control radars for the F-16 Block 60, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

QUICK LINK:  Northrop Grumman

 

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