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Northrop Grumman Announces New Orders for its Optionally Piloted Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance System Ahead of European Debut

Marking its European debut, Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Firebird product line will be showcased at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, in the United Kingdom, July 19-21.


The company is also announcing signed agreements with Tenax Aerospace and Grand Sky Development Company, LLC (“Grand Sky”) for rights to purchase Firebird, the company’s new, optionally piloted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft system.

“Flexibility, whether in cockpit configuration, payloads, or in owning and purchasing Firebird, is at the core of what makes this aircraft such an attractive ISR option for government partners and private industry,” said Brian Chappel, vice president, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “Having flown over two dozen sensors on Firebird’s proven architecture, we are ready to offer Firebird to a wide range of nations, U.S. government and civilian agencies, and businesses with critical data collection needs.”

Northrop Grumman’s Firebird product line delivers medium altitude, long endurance multi-mission flexibility and an unbeatable value. Available in manned, autonomous and optionally piloted configurations, Firebird is designed to deliver critical ISR capability to meet customer mission needs.

Grand Sky is the nation’s first commercial unmanned aerial vehicle testing and training center. Located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Grand Sky is home to one of Northrop Grumman’s North Dakota locations. Tenax Aerospace is a leading provider of special mission aircraft and related aviation services to the U.S. government and commercial customers. Both companies see Firebird as meeting critical information gaps for their businesses.

“We are excited to bring Firebird to Grand Sky and to utilize its long-endurance and variable payload capabilities for commercial customers. Our goal is to support energy infrastructure monitoring and humanitarian and disaster relief operations by leveraging Firebird’s range, altitude and endurance,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., president and partner with Grand Sky. “We see the incredible efficiencies to be gained in the market with technology like Firebird, enabling affordable data gathering on a scale not previously available to the commercial market space.”

“Firebird allows Tenax Aerospace to bring industry leading adaptability and flexibility in data collection at an extremely affordable price point to meet the needs of our sophisticated U.S. government and global security customers,” said Tom Foley, chairman, Tenax Aerospace. “Firebird provides a unique flexibility and responsiveness that we feel is essential for the critical missions we support today and in the future.”

Firebird is equipped with wide band Line-of-Sight (LoS) and/or Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLoS) data links, onboard storage and accessible processing for rapid data exploitation to ensure timely completion of missions for industry and government customers. The system’s unique design allows sensors to be changed rapidly as plug-and-play devices, reducing first time payload integration time from months to days and enabling rapid field changes in less than an hour to increase operational availability and tailored mission suitability. Firebird delivers 30-plus hours of endurance and up to 25,000 feet, providing customers near real-time actionable intelligence.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Please visit 

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