U.S. Navy Awards Contract for Five MQ-8C Fire Scouts

Unmanned Navy helicopter on a flight deck with two crew members

MQ-8C Fire Scout aboard the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado (LCS-4). Source: U.S. Navy

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp was awarded a $55.1 million contract by the U.S. Navy for the procurement of five MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air systems and two lightweight fuel cells.

The Fire Scout program comprises two aircraft: the original MQ-8B and the larger MQ-8C Endurance Upgrade.  The MQ-8B is based on the Schweizer 333, while the MQ-8C incorporates the MQ-8B electronics systems into the Bell 407 airframe.  The aircraft are used aboard ships to provide the Navy with real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

At one point, the Navy had removed 10 MQ-8Cs from its procurement plan, but Congress restored these aircraft to the FY17 and FY18 budgets.  The Fire Scouts in this contract were funded in FY18.

The first operational MQ-8C was delivered in 2014.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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