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Schumer, Clinton: Key Senate Panel Backs $24 Million For Schweizer Aircraft For Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Federal dollars will help support the development of the Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to be used by the US Navy and Marine Corps

Fire Scouts provide aerial intelligence for sailors and marines - these models can take off and land vertically

US Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced that a key Senate panel has approved $24 million for Schweizer Aircraft to help support the development of the Fire Scout RQ8 Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) to be used by the US Navy and Marine Corps. The bill must now be approved by the full Senate before being sent to a House and Senate Conference Committee and eventually being signed into law.

Specifically, today's funding will allow development of the program to be accelerated by making more equipment and resources available. The funds will provide air vehicles at the optimal economic production rate as well as ground stations, four blade rotors, sensors, and systems integration. Schweizer Aircraft is responsible for the design and manufacture of the Fire Scout VTUAV in partnership with Northrop Grumman, who is the prime contractor on the project.

"This money would allow our armed forces to use products made here to stay as prepared and effective as they can possibly be,said Schumer. Completing the Fire Scout will give our sailors and Marines the ability to get a great aerial view and help target their weapons without putting a pilot at risk. It's quick, extremely maneuverable, and a great value. And just as importantly, it could have a real impact on the local economy."

As a Senator, and since joining the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have been very impressed by the research, technologies and skills that the Southern Tier has to offer to our national defense. Senator Clinton said. "This appropriation builds on the strong support that the Fire Scout program received from Congress last year. Additional funding for this critical transformational program will provide our military personnel with a resource that can replace more costly manned systems and, most importantly, save lives in conflict. These funds are also important for the economic vitality of the region helping to develop innovative new technology right here in New York and playing a key role in our national defense, Senator Clinton said.

The Fire Scout VTUAV is in the final stages of development. Its primary role will be to provide Navy and Marine personnel with information about combat situations and precision targeting on the sea and ashore. The Fire Scout's long endurance, excellent performance, sophisticated payloads, ability to take off and land vertically, and autonomous operating capability make it uniquely able to provide long range surveillance and targeting under the most demanding of tactical conditions.

The Fire Scout's dynamic system is derived Schweizer's Model 333 turbine helicopter, which has been proven by over 20 million flight hours. With vehicle endurance greater than six hours, Fire Scout is capable of extended continuous operations. The Fire Scout will be able to fly 110 nautical miles from launch site, stay aloft for three hours, and then return.

Schweizer Aircraft has been a privately owned manufacturer of aircraft and aerospace components for 63 years. Over 5700 sailplanes, helicopters, agricultural aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft, designed and manufactured by Schweizer Aircraft, are operated in more than 70 countries around the world.