Scaled Composites is best known for creating commercial spaceships for Sir Richard Branson, but it turns out the firm can construct more conventional flying machines, too. The company has joined forces with Northrop Grumman to build the Firebird, a flexible new plane that's a veritable surveillance Swiss Army knife. Part Predator UAV and part traditional aircraft, the Firebird can take to the skies with or without a human at the controls as it combs the earth for enemies of the state. What's more, the airframe's HD video and infrared cameras, radar, and communications gear in the fuselage are able to gather info simultaneously to find the bad guys, and those payloads are easily swapped for other equipment through a universal interface. It's scheduled to strut its intelligence-gathering stuff during a military exercise in a couple weeks, and if all goes according to plan, it'll become another terrorist tracking tool in the U.S. arsenal. Video of the brand new bird in action is after the break.