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.