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

Shaun McDougall is an analyst at Forecast International covering the U.S. and Canadian defense markets.

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