Fire Scout payload protection to be enhanced
Northrop Grumman will protect the payload onboard the next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter with a protective cage to store and shield critical electronic components during flight. The company has received the first cage from Summit Aviation, which was selected during 2012 to manufacture the protective enclosure, known as a Faraday cage.
The cage will ensure that strong electric fields and electromagnetic interference do not compromise the aircraft’s electric components.
Once completed by Summit Aviation, the remaining Faraday cages will be shipped to Northrop Grumman for incorporation and testing prior to installation on the MQ-8C airframe.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the US Navy's Fire Scout programme. A total of 28 new MQ-8C Endurance upgrade Fire Scouts will be built using a purpose-modified Bell 407 air vehicle.
George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems with Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector, said: ‘Adding the Faraday cage to Fire Scout will provide the navy with improved accessibility and maintainability by centrally locating key critical avionics components and protect them from outside electrical interference.’
The larger MQ-8C Endurance Upgrade Fire Scout will provide the navy with increased range by more than one-third, more than double the endurance and increased payload capacity in comparison to the current MQ-8B variant capability.
Fire Scout, MQ-8B, is currently deployed on US Navy frigates and in Afghanistan providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to maritime and ground commanders.
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