U.S. Navy ship commanders now have a new way to improve intelligence-gathering capabilities—by using Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
The first operational MQ-8C unmanned helicopter was delivered to the U.S. Navy earlier this week, according to a news release. The MQ-8C is an upgraded version of the company’s MQ-88 Fire Scout, and features a larger airframe and can fly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads.
The MQ-8C’s first ship board test flights will be conducted this winter aboard the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109). The Navy will then assess the system for operational use. Northrop Grumman is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft, according to the release. The Navy plans to purchase 70 aircraft total.
“The test program will run through the summer as we expect these aircraft to be ready for operations by year’s end,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems with Northrop Grumman, according to the release.
For more information, visit northropgrumman.com.