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UAV achieves endurance record

April 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM

SAN DIEGO, April 13 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle achieved a single-day endurance flight record of 18 hours in U.S. Navy anti-piracy operations.

The vertical takeoff and landing tactical UAV, which provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data, was launched from the USS Halyburton, part of the Navy's 5th Fleet, Northrop Grumman said.

"We've continually worked with the Navy to enhance Fire Scout since its last deployment to meet these types of operational needs," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "These flights not only demonstrated Fire Scout's maturity, it showed how the system provides a much-needed extension for gathering crucial information during peacekeeping or wartime missions."

In April 2010, Fire Scout concluded a military utility assessment on board the USS McInerney, a frigate similar to the USS Halyburton. Fire Scout has flown twice as much in the first two months on board the USS Halyburton than the entire USS McInerney deployment.

The system also completed initial flight tests on board the USS Freedom (LCS 1) in November.

Fire Scout features a modular architecture that accommodates a variety of electro-optical/infrared and communications payloads. These payloads provide ground and ship-based commanders with high levels of situational awareness and precision targeting support.

Fire Scout's ability to operate at low ground speeds makes it particularly well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, search and rescue, reconnaissance and port security.

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