Thursday, October 31, 2013
POINT MUGU, Calif. -- The Navy's newest variant of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its first day of flying Thursday at Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. At 12:05 p.m. PDT the MQ-8C Fire Scout, built by Northrop Grumman, flew for seven minutes in restricted airspace to validate the autonomous control systems. The second flight that took off at 2:39 p.m. was also flown in a pattern around the airfield, reaching an altitude of 500 feet. The MQ-8C upgrade, based on a Bell 407 airframe, will eventually replace the MQ-8B, based on a Schweizer airframe (now Sikorsky). The MQ-8B is currently operating aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts. The MQ-8C is larger, has a range of 150 nautical miles and a payload capacity of more than 700 pounds. (Source: NNS, 10/31/13) Gulf Coast note: The MQ-8B is built in part in Moss Point, Miss., where work also will be done on the MQ-8C.