Fire-X vertical unmanned aircraft completed its first fully autonomous flight
Defense Industry News - Northrop Grumman / Bell Helicopter
Friday, 17 December 2010, 12:50 PM
Fire-X vertical unmanned aircraft completed its first fully autonomous flight.
SAN DIEGO --- Fire-X, a vertical unmanned air system (VUAS) developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation and Bell Helicopter, a Textron company, completed its first fully autonomous flight Dec. 10 at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., less than one year after development began.
Fire-X vertical unmanned aerial aircraft
"The speed which Fire-X was developed shows that a low-risk, fast-track solution can be safely flown using the proven MQ-8B Fire Scout's unmanned systems autonomous flight architecture," said Paul Meyer, sector vice president and general manager of the Advanced Programs and Technology Division at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We developed a VUAS that meets growing needs for cargo and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. We can now expand Fire-X's operational capabilities to meet emerging U.S. military requirements in all the Services and Special Operations Command."
First flight involved a short-duration hover to validate safe and reliable autonomous flight. Additional flight tests and reliability data gathering will be conducted in the coming weeks. Integration of ISR sensor payloads and cargo carrying capability test flights is set to occur early next year.
First flight was accomplished in 11 months after development began. It was achieved by integrating Fire Scout's proven autonomous systems developed for the U.S. Navy with the highly successful Bell 407 helicopter, a FAA-certified helicopter that's been in commercial service worldwide since 1996.