Firebird: Proof that MALE sizes matter?

Firebird UAV credit Northrop grumman.jpg

Northrop Grumman

The appearance of the Northrop Grumman Firebird, which was spotted on The DEW Line last Tuesday and identified as Firebird by Aviation Week on Thursday, raises many thoughts.

Among them: too bad the Scaled Composites Model 355 didn’t exist six years ago, or the army’s extended-range multi-purpose [ERMP] competition could have been a lot more interesting.

The Firebird seems built not so much to beat the air force’s MQ-1B Predator but the army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle. It also fills what has become a curiously yawning gap between two sub-categories within the class of medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The chart below shows the Firebird is the first UAS to populate the gap between roughly 1,500kg and 4,500kg for maximum take-off weight. With a 2,200 maximum take-off weight, the Firebird is still at the low-end of that range.

MALE sizes.jpg


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3 Responses to Firebird: Proof that MALE sizes matter?

  1. Rip Rapalski 11 May, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Assume that in this image the canopy is covered by a pop-top? Or are there two prototypes?

  2. Stephen Trimble 11 May, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Hey Rip, Great question. I asked Northrop that myself, and just got a response shortly before your question comes in. Northrop says that is indeed a closed canopy modification of the original prototype. It is not a separate prototype.

  3. John 11 May, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    What is the x axis of the graph showing? Thanks

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