May 10, 2012      

Northrop Grumman has been selected by the US Navy to produce a new variant of the firm?s Fire Scout unmanned helicopter using a Bell 407 airframe.

The US Department of Defense released information regarding contract awards, and according to the news, Northrop Grumman will produce a total of eight Fire Scout aircraft while not exceeding a budget of $262 million.

According to press reports, the upgraded Fire Scout will provide greater range, endurance and payload capacity as compared to its predecessor. The Fire Scout endurance upgrade has been designated as the MQ-8C.

Duke Dufresne, vice president and general manager for unmanned systems at Northrop Grumman is confident that his company can supply the US Navy in a timely fashion. ?Through our company-funded Fire-X demonstration effort we proved that using the mature unmanned systems architecture developed for the MQ-8B Fire Scout paired with the Bell 407 helicopter would provide greater capability efficiently and affordably. By using systems that have many years of development already invested in them we can meet the Navy?s needs quickly,? he said.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the MQ-8C program. Bell Helicopter and Rolls Royce are also major suppliers