We Have The Best Images And Video Yet Of The H03 Firebird Spy Plane And Boy Does It Sound Odd
The optionally manned, medium-altitude, long-endurance surveillance plane is meant to be quiet, which explains its strange acoustic signature.
Scaled Composites' optionally manned H03 Firebird surveillance plane has captured our imaginations since we first posted detailed single aspect images of its intriguing tail configuration last April. Since then, we reported that it had taken to the skies and had images to prove it. You can read everything we know about this highly unique aircraft and its interesting lineage in both of those past posts linked here and here. Now we have the clearest images yet of this supposed production-ready Firebird and its sensor suite, taken at Mojave Air And Space Port by our good friend and regular contributor Matt Hartman of Shorealonefilms.com.
Here are those shots and some captions about what we can see in them:
Here is a sample of just how incredible this sensor system is:
The images are certainly interesting, but this video of Firebird taxiing is even more so just for the audio alone:
Firebird is meant to be quiet due to its spy/surveillance mission set. Trying to get the drop on some bad guys while droning overhead like a buzz saw sort of defeats the point. Its five-bladed prop helps with its audible signature but clearly, other measures have been taken to make it as silent as possible.
As the H03's testing commences hopefully Scaled Composites will tell us a little bit more about the aircraft and even possibly who is slated to take ownership of it. Its unique and highly flexible feature set seems as if it would be really attractive, especially to export customers who can't afford all different types of manned and unmanned aerial surveillance assets. Just being able to easily forward-deploy the H03 to new locales with a pilot at the controls is a huge advantage over strictly unmanned medium altitude long endurance platforms. Other high-altitude, prop-driven surveillance aircraft do exist and remain in demand, but none are built to be optionally manned.
We also know that the EO/IR sensor ball is just the start of the aircraft's payload capabilities and it's designed to carry many types of systems, including radars, electronic intelligence suites, air sampling gear, and possibly even weapons. Seeing that Scaled Composites is owned by Northrop Grumman, its parent company may now have a product to offer that nobody can really compete directly with.
We will keep you in the loop as to any new developments with this truly intriguing aircraft.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com