New MQ-8C Fire Scout delivered to US Navy
The US Navy has taken delivery of its newest MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter from Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems centre in Moss Point, Miss. The aircraft will join the already delivered MQ-8C Fire Scout at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, for flight testing.
Ground and flight tests will be carried out on the newly delivered MQ-8C Fire Scout to prepare the aircraft for flight operations. Payload integration will be validated, and the communications between the ground control system and the aircraft will be tested.
The aircraft is scheduled to begin operational missions in 2014.
George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman, said: ‘Since 2006 we have conducted final assembly of the earlier MQ-8B Fire Scout aircraft from our Moss Point facility, so we have a lot of manufacturing experience there. With the MQ-8C variant being assembled there as well, we can use the same expertise and quality processes already developed.’
The MQ-8C Fire Scout has been developed to fly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads than the existing variant.
Including the two test aircraft, 14 new Fire Scouts are currently under contract to be built. The navy's current plan is to purchase 30 MQ-8C Fire Scouts in total.
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