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Northrop Grumman Firebird

flateric

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/northropgrumman/page10/
 

ADVANCEDBOY

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It looks professionally designed, but not in bandwagon with Alfa-tier manufacturers. I don`t see how aviation would have made a single step towards future here. A propeller driven very tiny airplane, that can`t even match M-55 Geofizika from late 80ies. God only knows how allergic I am to tiny aircraft, especially if it is deteriorated even more by propellers, non-retractable landing gear, etc. .Should we go back to leaf springs as well? This only hints to what engineering expertize and capacity is there in the black world to design and engineer all those Auroras and Liquid rotating mercury TR-3A Black Mantas. Kudos to Rutan for having the love to do the elbowgrease.
 

Stargazer2006

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Burt Rutan recently declared that he was not personally involved in the Firebird effort, only his company. The design team was led by Cory Bird, of Symmetry fame.
 

Stargazer2006

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Reaper

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The second seat has been added at the request of a mystery buyer, an order from whom has kicked off an initial low-rate production run of two per year for the next five years.Who is / could be the mystery buyer? Some special forces?
 

AeroFranz

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hmmm...if they plan to operate the vehicle as an OPV (Optionally piloted), then it makes sense to have a sensor operator.
 

Triton

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In HD:

On May 9, 2011, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) unveiled Firebird, a new intel gathering aircraft system designed to be flown manned, or unmanned. Firebird allows military users to get real-time high-definition video, view infrared imagery, use radar and even listen in on communications signals -- all at the same time.
http://youtu.be/hFsFMYoUju8
 

yasotay

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Next years headline: "DoD establishes that manned UAV are less costly; more mission flexibility" ::)
 

Triton

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Northrop Grumman Firebird with BACN SmartNode pod

Source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73614187@N03/7170359959/in/photolist-bVBYcR-9Mh4zc-9Mh3ni-9MjZmw-9Lmupj-9LihXT-adBsQ6-bRsjUx-9MiLqe-dd4WB9-9Yh2jz
 

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Sentinel36k

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There was some talk about "precision strike" being an attribute attached to the program. Nothing was ever mentioned about physical weapons testing, that narrows it down a bit.

Sentinel
 

Moose

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A 2-seat Fierbird is an interesting development.
 

GeorgeA

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Two items that may be of interest as historical context for high-altitude ISR missions:

[list type=decimal]
[*]A Garrett compound-cycle turboshaft engine with significantly enhanced endurance and low SFC: https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1983-1338
[*]A Boeing 100-hr endurance, 250-ft span HALE vehicle using a Cummins variant of the compound-cycle engine: https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1989-2014
[/list]
 

Stargazer2006

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It seems there hasn't been any recent update in this topic despite the fact that new information that has emerged.

First of all, the prototype seen in the latest photos [N326JG] is not registered as a Northrop Grumman R02, like the other two appearing on civil registers, [N241PR] and [N412DB]. It is a Northrop Grumman H03. According to the site The War Zone, which update its April 18 article:

The [aircraft] pictured in the first part of our article seems to have some alterations when compared to the earliest examples of the second generation Firebird. Most notably longer wings seem to have been fitted and changes have been made to the engine and nacelle configuration.
This is likely why the designation is H03 instead of R02, which was assigned to at least two earlier iterations of the second generation Firebird. The FAA's database says Northrop Grumman has two R02s (N241PR and N412DB) and one H03 (N326JG) registered to it. N355SX is the tail number of the original Firebird demonstrator aircraft.
Longer wings seem to have been fitted and changes have been made to the engine and nacelle configuration.
As for the aircraft's powerplant, supposedly it uses a fairly pedestrian turbocharged Lycoming TEO-540E engine, which is a testament to the airframe's super-efficient design. But it appears that the cowling configuration was changed on the H03 so it's not clear if this engine is still being used. It's possible that a new engine and wing combo was designed to boost the aircraft's altitude, endurance, and load carrying capacity. In its original configuration, it could supposedly fly in the 30,000-35,000 foot altitude range as fast as 200 knots.
On May 5, more photos were posted, along with a new article. Here are a few excerpts:

Photojournalist David Wirth captured these latest pictures near the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Northrop Grumman, which owns Scaled Composites at present, has a hangar at the airport and that’s where the all-gray H03 had previously emerged. The aircraft has a large air data boom, indicative of flight test activities, but we don’t know if this was its first flight or not.
Otherwise, the aircraft’s most prominent difference from the second iteration of the Firebird is the significantly longer wings.
In addition, the H03 has a revised engine and nacelle configuration. The R02s reportedly used a single Lycoming TEO-540E engine, a turbocharged variant of a relatively simple design that dates back to 1957, as its powerplant. That the aircraft only needed one these engines was good evidence of their highly efficient performance. As of 2012, Scaled Composites said the "production ready" design could use a "heavy fuel" powerplant.
The changes near the engine area suggest that the new version could have a different and more efficient or powerful powerplant to fly higher, longer, or with a larger payload.
The sensor and equipment fit also appears to be unchanged since we last saw N326JG. There is a single, large, black sensor turret underneath the fuselage. The aircraft, like its predecessor, is presumably capable of carrying various electro-optical, infrared, or multi-spectral video cameras, along with laser range-finders and designators.
There’s a “platter” antenna on the right boom, which is likely associated with a UHF satellite communications suite, as well various other antennas and aerials for other types of communications equipment and data links. The two black aerials under the wings are much more apparent in these new images, which likely work as line-of-sight UHF data links.
There appears to be another line-of-sight (LOS) data link under the nose and another one on top of the right tail. On the original Firebird and the R02s, personnel could install additional beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) links in the cockpit area for unmanned operations with an operator controlling the aircraft remotely from a ground station. It is said that the H03 can fly without a pilot in a similar configuration.
However, it is almost certain that the H03 can carry additional sensors, such as imaging radars and multi-camera wide-area persistent surveillance systems, as well as other equipment, including communications relays and electronic intelligence gathering suites. The R02s had a number of modular payload bays to accommodate these systems and it is likely that this newer aircraft retains many of those same compartments.
The real mystery of this plane remains what customer or customers Northrop Grumman might have lined up to purchase it and/or other production examples in the future.
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19898/mysterious-northrop-grumman-spy-plane-emerges-at-the-mojave-air-and-space-port
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/20643/northrop-grummans-h03-firebird-spy-plane-is-now-flying-at-mojave-air-and-space-port
 

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Michel Van

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new video about H03
Waring video start loud noisy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03wtPVUQxUo
 

GTX

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http://adbr.com.au/ng-to-offer-optionally-manned-firebird-for-new-coastwatch-mission/
 
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