Northrop's Firebird ISR aircraft to fly in Empire Challenge

Optionally piloted vehicle can carry up to four payloads

Northrop Grumman Corp. will demonstrate its newly developed, optionally piloted Firebird aircraft at the Defense Department’s Empire Challenge exercise that will begin May 23 in Fort Huachuca, Ariz.., reports Aviation Week.

The Firebird, which was built by Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites aerospace design unit, is a medium-altitude aircraft that can carry a maximum of four payloads simultaneously and operate up to 40 hours in the unmanned mode.

At the upcoming Empire Challenge exercise, the company plans to demonstrate four payloads: high-definition, full-motion video; electro-optical/infrared sensors; electronic support/direction finding; and communications relay.

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