Northrop Grumman has received orders to supply its optionally piloted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft system, known as Firebird.

The company’s Firebird will be procured by Tenax Aerospace and Grand Sky Development Company to meet critical information gaps in their businesses.

Tenax Aerospace is involved in providing special mission aircraft and related aviation services such as aerial fire suppression, intelligence gathering and airborne data acquisition.

Grand Sky is a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle testing and training centre in the US.

The Firebird ISR aircraft is designed to provide medium-altitude long-endurance multi-mission flexibility.

Northrop Grumman autonomous systems vice-president Brian Chappel said: “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.

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“Having flown over two dozen sensors on Firebird’s proven architecture, we are ready to offer Firebird to a wide range of nations, US Government and civilian agencies, and businesses with critical data collection needs.”

Firebird is available in manned, autonomous and optionally piloted configurations. Capable of delivering critical ISR capability, the system features wideband line-of-sight (LoS) and/or beyond-line-of-sight (BLoS) data links.

Other features include on-board storage and accessible processing.

The architecture enables sensors to be changed rapidly as plug-and-play devices. This significantly reduces the time taken for first-time payload integration and enables rapid field changes in less than an hour.

Northrop Grumman stated that Firebird has the ability to fly continuously for more than 30 hours at around 25,000ft to provide near real-time actionable intelligence.

Tenax Aerospace chairman Tom Foley said: “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 US Government and global security customers.

“Firebird provides a unique flexibility and responsiveness that we feel is essential for the critical missions we support today and in the future.”