Northrop Grumman, Bell Helicopter to develop, demonstrate new medium-range vertical unmanned system

  • 07-May-2010 01:21 EDT

Currently in development, Fire-X is a fully autonomous, four-blade, single-engine unmanned helicopter that will carry an array of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target-acquisition sensors to support war fighters' demands for enhanced situational awareness.

Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter have joined forces to develop and demonstrate a new rugged, high-capacity unmanned aerial system based on the four-blade, single-engine Bell 407 helicopter. First flight of the new Fire-X medium-range vertical unmanned aerial system (VUAS) is expected by the end of 2010. The Fire-X system integrates the mature unmanned systems architecture developed in the U.S. Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout program with the Bell 407 helicopter, a U.S. FAA-certified helicopter that has been in commercial service since 1996. It also provides complementary capabilities for missions that demand larger payloads (up to 3000 lb), longer endurance (more than 14 h), and robust cargo hauling (up to 2646 lb external).

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