Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D, will be the home of Northup Grumman’s Firebird, an optionally piloted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft system, after Grand Sky Development Company which is located on the installation recently signed a purchase agreement with the aerospace and defense giant, according to a UASweekly.com report.
The Firebird product line, according to the report, delivers medium altitude, long endurance multi-mission flexibility in manned, autonomous and optionally piloted versions, and is designed to deliver advanced ISR capabilities for customized needs.
“We are excited to bring Firebird to Grand Sky to utilize its long-endurance and variable payload capabilities for commercial customers,” said Thomas Swoyer, president of Grand Sky.
Grand Sky is the nation’s first commercial unmanned aerial system (UAS) testing and training center and is one of Northrop Grumman’s several North Dakota locations.
Firebird will be based at Grand Forks AFB, and after launch can stay on station for hours before returning, according to the report. The aircraft can reach anywhere in the country, operating for 30 or more hours and simultaneously support multiple missions.
The advanced aircraft’s capabilities include ISR, domestic security, emergency response, communications, humanitarian, and scientific efforts.
“The goal is to have the aircraft deployed around the country on a variety of missions. Our ability to map vast areas, stay ‘on-station’ for long periods of time to support emergency response or to reach remote areas is unmatched. No small UAS or small UAS swarm can match the capability and versatility of Firebird,” Swoyer said.
Photo provided by Northup Grumman