It’s been a busy week for Northrop Grumman‘s [NOC] Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Aircraft System (VUAS).

Monday, the company was awarded a contract by ABS Group, a Systems Engineering Technical Assistance (SETA) contractor for the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center, to conduct a maritime airborne sensor demonstration, Northrop Grumman reported.

The Coast Guard has said it needs to see how a maritime airborne sensor would work on the VUAS’ before deciding whether to acquire the platforms for the National Security Cutter.

The test, scheduled to occur in fall 2009, will take place from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Webster Outlying Field, according to Northrop Grumman.

The purpose of the test is to verify and validate ship-deployed unmanned aerial system (UAS) aircraft and payload capabilities, as described in Northrop Grumman’s response to an earlier Coast Guard Request for Information.

According to the company, Fire Scout will use the FLIR [FLIR] Systems Inc BriteStar II electro-optical/infrared/laser designator range finder (EO/IR/LDRF) payload. The radar will be an off-the-shelf Telephonics 1700B search, surveillance, tracking and imaging radar system, which was integrated on Fire Scout under an internal research and development cooperative funding program between Northrop Grumman and Telephonics in early 2008, the company said.

On Tuesday, the company said that the Army variant of Fire Scout, designated P7, successfully demonstrated its reconnaissance surveillance and target acquisition/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (RSTA/ISR) capabilities this week at Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz.

This RSTA/ISR demonstration was conducted with the use of a high-magnification electro-optical, infrared (EO/IR) payload, which includes a long range laser designator and rangefinder (LR/LD). Full motion video was relayed down to ground operators in real time over a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL), the company said.

After an autonomous launch, Fire Scout demonstrated its ability to find, fix, and track hostile forces during a real-time operational scenario in complex terrain at night, Northrop Grumman added.

Fire Scout has the capability to support several different RSTA payloads including FLIR System’s BRITE Star II EO/IR/LR/LD, Northrop Grumman’s ASTAMIDS EO/IR/LR/LD (which also provides countermine capabilities), and FLIR System’s Star SAFIRE III EO/IR/LR. Additional payloads can be easily integrated using Fire Scout’s robust open systems modular payload architecture. This flexibility also enhances Fire Scout’s ability to support the warfighter, according to Northrop Grumman.

The P7 Fire Scout capability demonstrations will continue throughout the summer with missions focused on advantages the VUAS will provide to land-component warfighters, the company added.