A new version of the U.S. Navy’s Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its first flight Oct. 31 in California.
The seven-minute flight began at 12:05 p.m. Pacific Time at Naval Base Ventura County, the Navy said. A second flight followed less than three hours later and saw the aircraft reach an altitude of 500 feet.
View of the video of the first flight here.
The new variant, also called the MQ-8C, will be tested aboard DDG-class guided-missile destroyers and may also support Littoral Combat Ship missions.
The MQ-8C is designed to provide more endurance, payload capacity and range than the existing MQ-8B Fire Scout, which the Navy uses to collect intelligence to support military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy missions at sea. The Navy, which hopes to begin deploying the MQ-8C as early as 2014, said the aircraft will meet the “urgent needs requirement” of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.
The MQ-8C industry team is led by Northrop Grumman and also includes Bell Helicopter, Rolls-Royce, Summit Aviation, Cubic Corp., General Electric Aviation, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Honeywell.
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