Monday, April 13, 2015

Larger Fire Scout a great fit

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The larger version of the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter has completed 297 test sorties and is scheduled to begin initial operational testing and evaluation in 2016, the Navy program manager said. The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout is larger and faster and can fly longer than the MQ-8B and will reduce the burden of manned aircraft, Capt. Jeff Dodge told a briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition. "For us it's a great fit," Dodge told Seapower after the briefing, “we were looking for greater range and endurance” than the MQ-8B, based on Schweizer 333 manned helicopter. The MQ-8C uses the Bell 407 airframe. The Navy has 23 MQ-8Bs and 19 MQ-8Cs. "We plan to put five more [MQ-8Cs] on contract this year," Dodge said, with long-term production plans of two air vehicles per year between fiscal 2016 and 2023 for a total of 40 MQ-8Cs. (Source: Seapower, 04/13/15) Gulf Coast note: Finishing work on both variants of the Fire Scout is done in Moss Point, Miss.