Northrop Grumman’s Firebird Completes Successful Multi-Day Capability Demonstration Flights
(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.; issued July 14, 2020)
SAN DIEGO --- Northrop Grumman Corporation recently completed a series of mission focused engagements, including integration and testing of Overwatch Imaging’s TK-9 Earthwatch sensor.

The sensor was integrated in one day as part of ongoing capability flights validating the wide range of missions the Firebird system can perform for government and commercial customers.

“During this exercise we rapidly integrated sensors and utilized Firebird’s operational flexibility to demonstrate the system’s unique capability,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “We leveraged Firebird’s communications suite and data processing power to patch in customers to our virtual feed so they were able to view flight activities in real time.”

Over a four-day period, Firebird demonstrated several data collection missions, including wide-area surveillance, pattern of life monitoring, route clearance, search and rescue, high-value subject tracking, hostage recovery, and fire hotspot detection. The Firebird team carried out four 10+ hour manned flights with 100 percent aircraft availability for day and night operations.

Northrop Grumman’s Firebird product line delivers medium altitude, long endurance multi-mission flexibility and affordability. Available in autonomous and optionally-piloted configurations, Firebird is designed to deliver critical ISR capability to meet customer needs. The system delivers 30-plus hours of endurance and flies up to 25,000 feet, providing customers near real-time actionable intelligence.

Overwatch Imaging provides automated airborne imaging systems for piloted and unmanned aircraft. Their TK-9 Earthwatch sensor has a flexible onboard AI-enabled automatic image processing engine that allows the system to adapt to new roles in new environments very quickly, from natural disaster emergency management to border security patrol and large-scale infrastructure inspection.


Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

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