Northrop Grumman Delivers Upgraded US Navy Targets
Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered to the US Navy two retrofitted BQM-34 Firebee aerial targets, the first delivery in a series of BQM-34 targets retrofitted with current production avionics hardware and software capability from the BQM-74E product line.
The retrofit addresses avionics obsolescence issues faced by the oldest BQM-34 targets in the Navy inventory. An added benefit of integrating the modernized avionics includes fully autonomous waypoint navigation and improved extreme low altitude performance using the same mission planning system and vehicle avionics suite currently delivered with Navy BQM-74 targets.
Under two contracts recently awarded by the Navy, Northrop Grumman will retrofit a total of 15 BQM-34 Firebees. The upgraded capability was initially demonstrated on August 17, 2005, with a successful first flight featuring the enhanced integrated avionics unit serving as the vehicle's autopilot. The two recent deliveries represent the first production version of the upgraded capability.
"The incorporation of the avionics upgrade into the BQM-34S will provide the Navy with an extremely economical means to fulfill their future target needs," said Hans Dall, manager of the Targets Program for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "The avionics upgrade will assure that the exceptional capabilities provided by the BQM-34 will continue to support Navy needs for many more years."
The primary mission of Firebee is to simulate tactical threats posed by enemy aircraft and missiles for test and evaluation of defensive weapons systems. With a top speed of Mach 0.97, and an operational envelope covering altitudes as low as 10 feet above the sea surface and as high as 60,000 feet, the BQM-34 Firebee is a highly versatile and reliable high performance aerial target system. It is capable of performing seven-g turns while maintaining high airspeeds for realistic threat presentations.
With its high-thrust engine, advanced microprocessor flight control system, rugged airframe, and wide assortment of mission augmentation systems, the BQM-34 Firebee is a premier high performance aerial target system for today's military test and evaluation requirements.
Its modular, robust design; large internal and external payload capacity; and abundant electrical power allows it to be readily modified to meet specialized target and tactical unmanned aerial vehicle missions. Such performance, and the ability to survive the hits and near misses of repeated missions, explains why the Firebee has been in constant use by American military services for more than five decades.
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