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Northrop Grumman's MQ-8B Fire Scout Completes First Flight Test With Payload and Integrated Tactical Common Data Link

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 20, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Navy is moving closer to conducting Technical Evaluation with its Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed (NYSE:NOC) MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV). The Fire Scout recently completed its first flight with the BRITE Star II(r) electro-optical/infrared payload using a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). The flight took place on Aug. 9, 2008 at Webster Field, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://media.primezone.com/noc/

"Starting payload integration and data link flight testing is a major milestone for the VTUAV program," said Doug Fronius, MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV program director for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "Completing the first series of payload and TCDL flights brings the entire VTUAV system into flight test and puts Fire Scout one step closer to shipboard integration and testing."

The Fire Scout TCDL, developed by Cubic Corporation, provides real-time wide-band imagery and other information to the land- or ship-based control segment. For shipboard use, the airborne TCDL will communicate with the ship's TCDL terminal. A Fire Scout payload interface unit allows the TCDL and payload interface to remain independent of flight-critical functions. This permits future payloads to be easily integrated without impacting flight critical functionality.

The BRITE Star(r) II payload, built by FLIR Systems, Inc., is a combat-proven, long-range multi-sensor targeting and target designation system for the Navy's Fire Scout. It is common with the U.S. Marine Corps Huey-1N/Y program and is a derivative of FLIR's BRITE Star and Star SAFIRE targeting systems. The BRITE Star(r) II version provides high-resolution color and monochrome imagery and has a high-power laser range finder and laser designator.

The Navy plans to conduct Technical Evaluation of the Fire Scout aboard an FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in early 2009 and will conduct Operational Evaluation (OpEval) in the summer 2009. The Fire Scout will reach Initial Operating Capability soon after OpEval in 2009.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

CONTACT: Rene' Freeland
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
(858) 618-7606
rene.freeland@ngc.com



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