The MQ-8C Fire Scout has a larger airframe than the MQ-8B, giving it greater payload capacity, endurance time and range. Northrop is building five additional aircraft for the service, which now has 19 on order.
"Land-based flight tests of the system are progressing well and we're working with the Navy to conduct our first ship-based flights this summer," said George Vardoulakis, vice president, medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman. "We expect the MQ-8C Fire Scout will be ready for operations by year end."
Data, including full-motion video, collected by Fire Scout’s sensors are distributed in real time to ship-based commanders, increasing situational awareness of specific areas or of a target of interest.
Northrop Grumman said its final assembly of the aircraft is taking place at its Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.
Additional information on the order for five additional aircraft for the Navy was not disclosed.