Northrop Grumman Firebird UAV lets pilots ride too

Northrop Grumman's Firebird can be flown manned or unmanned, which may allow it to use civil airspace.

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has unveiled a long-endurance unmanned spy plane which, in addition to surveillance gear, can carry pilots, potentially allowing it to fly in civil airspace.

The Firebird performed its first flight in February 2010. It can fly up to 30,000 feet and has an endurance of up to 40 hours in unmanned mode. It has a payload of 1,240 pounds and a wingspan of 65 feet.

It has high-def video, electro-optical and infrared sensors as well as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) systems. There are two weapons points on the wings.

Northrop's Scaled Composites designed the aircraft, which has an interface like a memory stick in that it can be plugged into a PC without the need of additional software.

Firebird will be demoed May 23 - June 3, 2011 at Empire Challenge 2011, held by U.S. Joint Forces Command in Arizona. If you can't make it, there's a promo video here.

Featured Video
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

Microsoft leaves Apple in the dust with tablet and laptop innovation in 2015

Will there be one Apple Ring to rule them all? That's what a patent application says. Plus, building the thinnest gadget isn't innovation anymore and Apple just got a reality check from Microsoft.

by Brian Tong