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Northrop touts UAV data sharing

Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:10 PM

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman in California has announced the first successful sharing of sensor intelligence data between unmanned and manned helicopters.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by the Fire Scout UAV have previously been sent to its host ship for dissemination, the company said. However, in an exercise at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, the aircraft directly sent data to the cockpit display of the U.S. Navy aircraft.

The data were also viewed simultaneously by a U.S. Coast Guard boat using a remote terminal.

"The capability … improves Fire Scout's communications relay function by allowing multiple units to share real-time information to coordinate actions without delay," Northrop said.

The Fire Scout unmanned helicopter has a modular design that allows for a variety of electro-optical, infrared and communications payloads, which give ground- and ship-based commanders situational awareness and precision targeting support.

"Fire Scout complements the Navy's manned helicopters by effectively extending the range and area of ship-based intelligence gathering operations," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

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