Northrop Grumman received a contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) to build the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter based on the Bell 407 airframe. The contract, announced April 23, has a not-to-exceed cost ceiling of $262 million for two demonstration and six production MQ-8Cs.
MQ-8 Fire Scout
After several years of testing, the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) to Afghanistan. The APKWS is a conversion of the Hydra 70-mm unguided rocket into a precision-guided munition through the addition of the WGU-59/B mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE.
The U.S. Navy grounded its fleet of 14 MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters following the recent crash of an aircraft in Afghanistan and a ditching at sea. The Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said it is reviewing Fire Scout system performance and operational procedures. Loss rates of U.S. military unmanned platforms are not often discussed, but official data from the U.S.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) reported progress in arming the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV, which will be the Navy’s first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. The command said its structures rotary-wing division and the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout team are “working briskly” at Webster Field Annex in Patuxent River, Md., to support an urgent operational needs request from Naval Forces Central Command.
Sikorsky is now anticipating FAA certification of the S-434 light single for early next year, slightly later than the previous target date, which was this month. An improved Schweizer S-333, the S-434 sports a four-blade rotor, a new tail-rotor blade design, a structurally enhanced landing gear, a new trim system and an improved Kaflex driveshaft. The main rotor and its transmission come from the unmanned Fire Scout. The S-434 and the S-333 use the same Rolls-Royce 205-C20W turboshaft, which provides 320 shp.
Companies are lining up for the U.S. Navy’s medium-range, maritime unmanned aerial system (MRMUAS) requirement, a planned follow-on to the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
Bell Helicopter Textron has high hopes that three aircraft making their Dubai Air Show debuts–the Bell 407AH and 429, and Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor–will soon find permanent homes in the Middle East.
The U.S. Navy awarded a development contract to Northrop Grumman to upgrade the AN/AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared countermeasures (Laircm) system on CH-53D/E and CH-46E helicopters with a multifunction advanced warning sensor (ATW).
The U.S. Army and Navy will coordinate their requirements for a future unmanned medium-range helicopter, officials said at the Unmanned Systems North America conference last week in Washington, D.C. Such has been the interest in unmanned VTOL systems that programs and requirements seem to have proliferated, leading to potentially duplicative and costly developments.
A heavy unmanned helicopter would be invaluable for operations at highly dangerous sites, such as the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, providing another avenue to address the problem with a greater measure of safety. Technology for pilotless rotorcraft is already in place but so far has been applied only to micro drones and relatively light rotorcraft.
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