Photokina 2014 highlights

Northrop Grumman

First flight for MP-RTIP equipped Global Hawk (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman's Block 40 Global Hawk has new eyes. The unmanned aircraft completed its first full system flight carrying the production version of the next-gen Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 21.  Read More

SBIRS GEO-1 Missile Warning Satellite Delivering Unprecedented Infrared Surveillance Capab...

The first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) spacecraft launched a month ago, has begun delivering infrared imagery to the SBIRS ground station. The satellite includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will provide wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the globe, while the staring sensor will be capable of observing much smaller areas of interest with vastly increased sensitivity. The system will massively enhance the U.S. military’s ability to detect missile launches around the globe, significantly improve technical intelligence gathering capability, and increase situational awareness on the battlefield.  Read More

The Firebird was designed to be flown either manned or unmanned

Although the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as Global Hawk and Raven for military information gathering has increased sharply in the last decade due to the maturation and miniaturization of enabling technologies, conventional piloted aircraft can still be a better option depending on the mission at hand. Northrop Grumman has unveiled a new intelligence gathering aircraft called the Firebird that falls into the category of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) with its ability to be flown robotically or with a human pilot on board.  Read More

ONR successfully disables a small target vessel using a solid-state, high-energy laser (US...

Solid-state laser weapons are a step closer to operational capability with the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) reporting that it has successfully disabled a small target boat during testing off the Californian coast. Stemming from the Defense Department's Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program, the Northrop Grumman developed Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) was installed on the deck of the Navy's test ship the USS Paul Foster for the demonstration, making it the first time such a system has been integrated with a ship's radar and navigation system and the first time a high-energy laser has been fired at sea from a moving platform.  Read More

X-47B first flight: the era of the autonomous unmanned combat plane approaches

No matter how I look at this, it still seems like science fiction – a combat aircraft without a pilot that is capable of flying itself, making its own decisions, recognizing and neutralizing threats, and taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier. Last Friday (Feb 4), the Northrop Grumman-built U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft successfully completed its historic first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The era of the unmanned combat plane is fast approaching.  Read More

The new Space Fence will detect space debris that could threaten the ISS and commercial an...

There are tens of thousands of pieces of space debris currently orbiting the Earth which pose a potential hazard to satellites, the International Space Station and other space hardware. Since the early 1960s, the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System, also known as the VHF or Space Fence, has been used to track orbital objects passing over America. Proposals are now being taken for the next phase of a new Space Fence that will better detect, report and track orbiting space junk as well as commercial and military satellites.  Read More

Cruising at 45,000 to 65,000 feet, the specially equipped Global Hawk UAV enables scientis...

Global Hawk, Northrop Grumman’s sophisticated unmanned high altitude surveillance aircraft is finding its niche in unexpected areas. In April, 2010, in consort with NASA, a Global Hawk fitted with scientific instruments completed 82.5 flight hours cruising at latitudes ranging from the Arctic Circle to just near the equator as part of an ongoing civilian research program known as GloPac, or Global Hawk Pacific Program, which aims to study atmospheric conditions over the Pacific and Arctic oceans.  Read More

 QinetiQ Zephyr solar powered unmanned aircraft to land after 14 days aloft

Barring mishap, QinetiQ will set a significant milestone in aviation history later today. After 14 days and nights in the air, the solar-powered Zephyr unmanned aircraft we wrote about last week is set to land, claiming a raft of world records for flight duration and the title of the world's first truly persistent aeroplane.  Read More

Zephyr will extend the official world record by at least one order of magnitude

Zephyr, QinetiQ’s solar-powered, high-altitude long-endurance (HALE), Unmanned Air System (UAS) is currently in the air and setting a landmark unmanned flight duration record by demonstrating what is essentially perpetual flight. The official world record for the longest unmanned flight is 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk in 2001. A previous smaller relative of the current Zephyr holds the unofficial record of 82 hours but this time QinetiQ has FIA officials on hand and has been flying the new 22.5m wingspan plane for the past week, and is closing on the 200 hour mark with another week (168 hours) planned. It needs to land safely to claim the record, but the feat has already demonstrated that the era of low-cost, persistent aerial surveillance has begun.  Read More

 Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

Not so long ago it seemed that the golden age of giant lumbering airships had gone down with the Hindenberg, consigned to less spectacular roles in research, advertising and as a great camera platform above sporting events... but they're making a comeback. Lighter-than-air aircraft are returning to passenger carrying roles in tourism and in recent years we've seen a new-generation of airships put forward as a cargo-lifting solution (DARPA's Walrus Project) and even as a corporate air yacht (Aeroscraft ML866). Now the U.S. Army is moving quickly to build a hybrid airship weapons system that will act as a long-duration UAV – a very big UAV. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) will be longer than a football field and stay aloft at altitudes of 20,000 feet for more than three weeks at a time providing an "unblinking eye" for surveillance and reconnaissance.  Read More

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