Bell Helicopter Textron is awarded a contract modification for seven additional Bell 407 variant commercial airframes in support of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout Unmanned Air System (UAS) program.
The modification, worth around $21.7 million, is awarded by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) located in Patuxent River, Maryland.
Work will be performed in Ozark, Alabama, and is expected to be completed in December 2020.
MQ-8C Fire Scout
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout (known as the Fire-X during development) is an unmanned helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman for use by the United States Navy.
The MQ-8C airframe is based on the Bell 407, while the avionics and other systems are developed from those used on the smaller MQ-8B Fire Scout.
The aircraft has an endurance of 12 hours, a range of 150 nmi (170 mi; 280 km), and a payload capacity of about 318 kg (701 lb); it has twice the endurance and three times the payload as the MQ-8B.
The MQ-8C has autonomous take-off and landing capability, and is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.
It first flew in October 2013 and the first operational aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy in December 2014.