Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Complete First Flight of Next Generation Fire Scout

  Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Complete First Flight of Next Generation Fire

Unmanned helicopter to provide greater endurance, payload and range

PR Newswire

POINT MUGU, Calif., Oct. 31, 2013

POINT MUGU, Calif., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Northrop Grumman Corporation
(NYSE: NOC) and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first flight of the
next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter at Naval Base Ventura
County, Point Mugu, Calif.


Photos accompanying this release can be found here:

At 12:05 p.m. the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off and flew for seven minutes in
restricted airspace to validate the autonomous control systems. A second
flight that took off at 2:39 p.m. for nine minutes was also flown in a pattern
around the airfield, reaching 500 feet altitude.

The aircraft was operated by a ground-based Navy/Northrop Grumman flight test
team also located at Naval Base Ventura County. 

"First flight is a critical step in maturing the MQ-8C Fire Scout endurance
upgrade before using the system operationally next year," said Capt. Patrick
Smith, Fire Scout program manager, Naval Air Systems Command. "The systems
we've developed to allow Fire Scout to operate from an air-capable ship have
already amassed more than 10,000 flight hours with the MQ-8B variant. This
system's evolution enhances how unmanned air systems will support maritime

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is designed to fly twice as long and has three times the
payload capacity of the current MQ-8B variant. Based on a larger commercial
airframe with additional fuel tanks and an upgraded engine, the MQ-8C will be
able to fly up to 12 hours or carry up to 2,600 pounds.

"Operating the MQ-8B Fire Scout from Navy ships has proved extremely
successful. During at-sea deployments, operators saw the need for a system
that carried the same intelligence-gathering capabilities of the MQ-8B, but
fly longer and carry additional payloads," said George Vardoulakis, Northrop
Grumman's vice president for medium range tactical systems. "Changing out the
airframe, installing control systems and avionics, and then conducting a first
flight of the system in a year is truly remarkable. I couldn't be more proud
of the team."

Currently, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is on its ^ seventh at-sea deployment
supporting antipiracy missions on board Navy frigates. The system has also
been used extensively in Afghanistan since early 2011 to provide airborne
surveillance to ground commanders.

Using on-board sensors to capture full-motion video, Fire Scout can identify
targets and then distribute the information in real time to various users.
This capability allows ship-based commanders to maintain awareness of a
specified area or keep an eye on a target of interest for long periods of

Production of the MQ-8C Fire Scout is being completed at the Northrop Grumman
Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout industry team includes Bell Helicopter, Rolls-Royce,
Summit Aviation, Cubic Corporation, General Electric Aviation, Sierra Nevada
Corporation and Honeywell.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative
systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and
logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Please visit for more information.

SOURCE Northrop Grumman Corporation

Contact: Warren Comer, 858-618-7788 (office), 858-705-7246 (mobile),
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