Saturday, September 10, 2011

Navy to buy larger Fire Scouts

Northrop Grumman photo
The Navy is to award Northrop Grumman a contract to supply 28 MQ-8C Fire Scout "rapid deployment capability" unmanned helicopters using the larger Bell 407 helicopter airframe to increase endurance and payload. The notice of intent says the aircraft are to be fielded by the first quarter of 2014. The Navy also evaluated the Boeing Hummingbird and Lockheed Martin/Kaman K-Max, but opted for the 407 airframe jointly developed by Northrop Grumman and Bell as the Fire-X and first flown in December. The MQ-8C will use the same systems as the MQ-8B, which is on the smaller Schweizer 333 helicopter airframe. (Source: Aviation Week, 09/09/11) Gulf Coast note: The MQ-8B is built in part in Moss Point, Miss.