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Fire-X tactical UAV completes first flight test

Fire-X vertical unmanned air system during flight test. A Northrop photo

SAN DIEGO (BNS): Fire-X – the new medium range high-capacity vertical unmanned aerial vehicle system (VUAS) being developed for the US defence forces – has undergone its first flight test early this month.

The VUAS, being jointly developed by Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter, completed its first fully autonomous flight on December 10 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, US.

The test involved a short-duration hover to validate safe and reliable autonomous flight, Northrop said.

Additional flight tests and reliability data gathering will be conducted in the coming weeks. Integration of ISR sensor payloads and cargo carrying capability test flights is set to occur early next year, the company said.

The Fire X tactical UAV with vertical take-off and landing capability is based on a four-blade single-engine Bell 407 helicopter.

Drawing heavily from the US Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV helicopters developed by Bell, the Fire-X incorporates intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) features. The aircraft has enhanced payload capacity (up to 3000 pounds), longer endurance (over 14 hours) and robust cargo hauling.

The first flight test of Fire-X was achieved by integrating Fire Scout’s proven autonomous systems with the Bell 407 helicopter.

The new UAV system is being designed to operate with nearly any type of current or future military standard-based control segment, including the US Navy's Tactical Control Station, and the Army's ground control station.


UAV  Fire-X  Northrop  

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