Dec 6, 2014

First Operational MQ-8C Fire Scout Delivered to US Navy

Northrop Grumman has delivered the first of a possible 70 MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters to the US Navy (USN).Based on the Bell 407 helicopter, the aircraft is a larger and more capable version of the MQ-8B Fire Scout. The MQ-8C has double the endurance and three times the payload capacity of the B-model. The C-model has a range of about 150 n miles and a payload capacity over 317 kg. It is outfitted to conduct ship-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
The company is under contract to build 19 MQ-8Cs, including two test aircraft. The navy's total planned inventory for MQ-8 Fire Scout is 70 air vehicles. In addition to the 30 MQ-8Bs and 19 MQ-8Cs that have been procured to date, the programme will buy an additional 21 MQ-8C air vehicles. The MQ-8Cs first deployment is currently scheduled for 2016.
The USN conducted land-based MQ-8C flight tests in August to prepare for sea-trials. The first ship-board flight tests aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) are scheduled to begin in the coming weeks. The trials will provide the navy with data to assess the system for operational use.

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