Northrop Grumman readying unmanned Navy helicopter for first flight

Sept. 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman has powered up the engine for the U.S. Navy's first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter during initial ground testing.

The engine runs at U.S. Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif., enable engineers to collect data to ensure that all the aircraft's systems are functioning properly prior to the aircraft's first flight.

"Completion of these tests signifies our steady progress toward the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout," said George Vardoulakis, vice president of medium range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman. "We continue to work closely with our Navy customer, ensuring that the Fire Scout system is checked out and ready before operational use."

The MQ-8C will be used by the Navy for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and for targeting support for ground, air and sea forces. It has a cruise speed of 110 knots, a combat radius of 110 nautical miles and a time on station of more than 5 hours.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the Fire Scout, which is expected to be deployed early next year.

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