Unmanned helicopter deemed deployable by Navy

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, has reached initial operational capability.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air, and sea forces.

The MQ-8C is an endurance and payload upgrade to the smaller MQ-8B and can fly up to 12 hours on station depending on payload. The variant incorporates the commercial Bell 407 airframe, which numbers more than 1,600 Bell with more than 4.4 million flight hours, according to company officials.

Fire Scout accompanies the MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It will include upgraded radar that allows for a larger field of view and a range of digital modes, including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a ground moving target indicator.