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10 décembre 2014 3 10 /12 /décembre /2014 08:20
L'US Navy reçoit son premier drone Fire Scout opérationnel


05/12/2014 par Duncan Macrae – Air & Cosmos


Un peu plus d’un an après le premier vol du MQ-8C de Northrop Grumman, l’US Navy a reçu un premier exemplaire de l’hélicoptère dronisé dans sa version opérationnelle.


Les premiers essais en mer sont prévus cet hiver à partir du destroyer USS Jason Dunham. Le programme d’essais sera poursuivi jusqu’à l’été 2015. Le MQ-8C devrait être prêt pour une entrée en service à la fin de l’année prochaine, avec un retard de 12 mois sur l’objectif annoncé jusqu’alors.


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23 octobre 2014 4 23 /10 /octobre /2014 16:20
photos Northrop Grumman

photos Northrop Grumman

MQ-8C Fire Scout completes "slope testing"


POINT MUGU, Calif. – Oct. 23, 2014 – Northrop Grumman


Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully completed precision sloped landing tests Aug. 27 with the MQ-8C Fire Scout at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, in preparation for at-sea testing.


MQ-8C Fire Scout has been undergoing rigorous flight testing and validation, which will culminate in the actual takeoff and landing on the deck of a Navy vessel at-sea. The MQ-8C is the company's latest variant of its successful Fire Scout unmanned aerial system, which performs intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the U.S. Navy.


"The sloped takeoff and landing tests are designed to be as real as it gets to actually operating on a Navy ship," said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command. "The autonomous MQ-8C Fire Scout system is able to precisely track and understand the roll and pitch of the surface which resembles at-sea conditions."


The sloped landing platform was previously used to test and certify the MQ-8B Fire Scout for ship-based operations and is now being used for the more capable MQ-8C. The MQ-8C is utilizing the same proven autonomous system for takeoff and landings as the current MQ-8B model.


Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout Prepares for Shipboard TestingNorthrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout Prepares for Shipboard Testing

"The MQ-8C Fire Scout system is performing as predicted and as previously demonstrated during Fire-X testing back in 2011," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for Medium Range Tactical Systems, Northrop Grumman. "These tests enable a validation of our autonomous system and clear the way for dynamic interface testing onboard the ship."


Since its first flight Oct. 31, 2013, the MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown 219 flights and 287 hours. The most recent tests on the MQ-8C have consisted of electromagnetic testing, which assured compatibility with ship-based emitters (like radar) and an initial phase of dynamic interface testing, which looked at deck handling and communications networks. The MQ-8C's first ship-based series of flights are planned for later this year.


Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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18 juin 2014 3 18 /06 /juin /2014 07:20
Northrop Grumman, US Navy Increase MQ-8B Fire Scout's Visual Reach with a Modernized Radar



SAN DIEGO – June 17, 2014 – Northrop Grumman Corporation


Integrating advanced radar onto the MQ-8B Fire Scout


Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy demonstrated a new multimode maritime surveillance radar on the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter that will drastically enhance long-range imaging and search capabilities for Navy commanders.


Warfighters will now have the latest in radar technology to pair with their current electro-optical infrared payload. Integrating this new radar system will provide the MQ-8B Fire Scout with essential operational capabilities in all tactical environments and will improve how it addresses threats in real-world scenarios.


"Fire Scout is pushing the limits of unmanned helicopters by continuing to add enhanced capabilities to its already advanced payload," said George Vardoulakis, vice president, medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "This modernized radar complements Fire Scout's other sensors and systems to provide the Navy with increased visibility far beyond the horizon, while collecting vital imaging for maritime operations."


Northrop Grumman modified a Telephonics Corporation AN/ZPY-4 multi-mode maritime surveillance radar system used for manned aircraft, so it could be used on the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout.


Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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17 juin 2014 2 17 /06 /juin /2014 16:20
Fire Scout conducts flight with new radar


Jun 17, 2014 ASDNews Source : Naval Air Systems Command


The MQ-8 Fire Scout prepares to land after its  first flight with a new maritime surface search radar June 16 at Webster Field Annex, Md. This upgrade will increase the situational awareness and threat warning in a high-traffic littoral environment.  Fire Scout's deployment with the new radar is planned for 2015.

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3 avril 2014 4 03 /04 /avril /2014 12:20
L’US Navy commande cinq Fire Scout supplémentaires


03.04.2014 Helen Chachaty journal-aviation.com


L’US Navy va acquérir cinq drones VTOL MQ-8C Fire Scout supplémentaires, en vertu d’un contrat signé avec l’industriel Northrop Grumman le 2 avril. Le contrat de 43,8 millions de dollars comprend également la livraison d’une station de contrôle au sol. Les drones devraient être livrés d’ici décembre 2015.


Le drone hélicoptère de Northrop Grumman est développé à partir de la cellule d’un Bell 407. Version améliorée du MQ-8B, il a effectué son vol inaugural le 31 octobre 2013 et devrait être opérationnel au sein de l’US Navy dans le courant de l’année. Il sera surtout utilisé pour les missions ISR.

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14 mars 2014 5 14 /03 /mars /2014 13:20
MQ-8C Fire Scout reaches 100 flight hours



Mar 13, 2014 ASDNews Source : Naval Air Systems Command


An MQ-8C Fire Scout on runway after a test flight at Point Mugu, Calif., March 10. The unmanned helicopter surpassed 100 flight hours during this event and will continue to undergo testing at Point Mugu this year.  In July, the Navy will conduct dynamic interface testing with the MQ-8C aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) to test the vehicle's take-off and landing procedures. Initial deployment for MQ-8C is planned for 2015.

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27 novembre 2013 3 27 /11 /novembre /2013 08:20
Northrop Grumman Delivers Additional MQ-8C Fire Scout to the US Navy

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is the Navy's newest unmanned helicopter that can fly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads than the existing variant.


Nov 27, 2013 (SPX)


San Diego CA - Northrop Grumman has delivered the second MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy after completing final assembly at the company's unmanned systems center in Moss Point, Miss.


The aircraft is joining the first one delivered to Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif., to conduct flight testing before using the system for operational missions in 2014.


"Since 2006 we have conducted final assembly of the earlier MQ-8B Fire Scout aircraft from our Moss Point facility, so we have a lot of manufacturing experience there," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman.


"With the MQ-8C variant being assembled there as well, we can use the same expertise and quality processes already developed."


The MQ-8C Fire Scout is the Navy's newest unmanned helicopter that can fly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads than the existing variant.


To prepare the second MQ-8C Fire Scout for flight operations, a series of ground and flight tests will occur to validate payload integration and that communications between the ground control system and the aircraft are working properly.


Including the two test aircraft, 14 new Fire Scouts are currently under contract to be built. The Navy's current plan is to purchase 30 MQ-8C Fire Scouts.

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4 novembre 2013 1 04 /11 /novembre /2013 07:20
NGC, US Navy Complete 1st Flight of Next Generation Fire Scout


Nov 1, 2013 ASDNews Source : Northrop Grumman Corporation


    Unmanned Helicopter to Provide Greater Endurance, Payload and Range


Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first flight of the next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif.


At 12:05 p.m. the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off and flew for seven minutes in restricted airspace to validate the autonomous control systems. A second flight that took off at 2:39 p.m. for nine minutes was also flown in a pattern around the airfield, reaching 500 feet altitude.


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25 juillet 2013 4 25 /07 /juillet /2013 16:20
A US Navy's MQ-8C UAV. Photo US Navy

A US Navy's MQ-8C UAV. Photo US Navy

24 July 2013 naval-technology.com


The US Navy has received the first upgraded MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Northrop Grumman, in preparation for ground and flight testing.


The UAV will initially undergo ground testing to demonstrate its ability to communicate with the ground control station, followed by flight trials to validate its technology.


Northrop Grumman medium-range tactical systems vice-president George Vardoulakis said the upgraded Fire Scout UAV will undergo ground and flight testing to meet the US Navy's urgent requirement for maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.


"Testing on the naval air systems command test range provides us with extended air space to conduct and demonstrate long endurance and systems testing in a maritime environment," Vardoulakis said.


"The endurance upgrade doubles the time on station of the MQ-8 system, and will help reduce the workload for the ship's crew by cutting the number of times the crew will need to be in flight quarters."


The upgraded MQ-8 system features a modified commercially available airframe to provide enhanced range, more than double the endurance and three times the payload capacity when compared to the MQ-8B variant.


Currently in service onboard the US Navy aircraft carriers, the MQ-8B is also used in Afghanistan to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to maritime and ground commanders.


The new MQ-8C Fire Scout is capable of vertical take off and landing, and provides the navy with extended range, payload and cargo hauling capabilities.


The MQ-8C UAV's first operational deployment with the US Navy is scheduled in 2014.

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12 juin 2013 3 12 /06 /juin /2013 07:20
An artist's rendering of Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV, which is based on the Bell 407 Jet Ranger airframe. The C version is larger than the MQ-8B Fire Scout already in the fleet. (Northrop Grumman)

An artist's rendering of Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV, which is based on the Bell 407 Jet Ranger airframe. The C version is larger than the MQ-8B Fire Scout already in the fleet. (Northrop Grumman)

Jun. 11, 2013 - By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS  - Defense news


Airframe Based on Bell Jet Ranger


WASHINGTON — There’s a new Fire Scout in the pipeline — bigger, faster, longer legs, more muscle. It’s still being assembled and won’t fly until later this year, but it’s headed for the fleet as soon as late 2014. And it could fundamentally change some of the parameters expected of the US Navy’s seagoing unmanned helicopter program.


The MQ-8 Fire Scout program has been under development for about a decade. A key factor for the aircraft was its small size, making it exceptionally handy to store and operate aboard ship.


The Navy often presents the diminutive Northrop Grumman aircraft as taking up about half the space of the H-60 Seahawk helos routinely deployed on surface combatants. And frigates are deploying with four MQ-8B Fire Scouts. Littoral combat ships are intended to routinely deploy with one or two Fire Scouts in addition to an H-60.


But something more was needed, and in 2011, US Africa Command and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) submitted an urgent needs request for an aircraft with more range and payload for their maritime-based ISR.


Northrop Grumman, before selecting the Schweizer 333 helicopter as the basis for its original Fire Scout bid, had evaluated the larger Bell 407 Jet Ranger, an aircraft familiar to Navy rotary flight school trainees as the TH-57 Sea Ranger.


To meet the new need for the larger UAV, the company proposed switching to the larger bird, but keeping the systems, electronics and ground control stations developed for the smaller helo. A demonstrator, dubbed Fire-X, was developed at company expense to show off the concept.


The Pentagon was impressed, and in the spring of 2012, Northrop received a contract for the first batch of up to 30 MQ-8C Fire Scouts using the basic Jet Ranger air frame.


“The new system kept the sensors, communications and software of the smaller Fire Scout, with about 80 to 90 percent commonality with the B,” said Capt. Chris Corgnati, head of unmanned aircraft systems under the deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance (N2/N6). “But there was a different air frame, engine and rotor head.”


The new Fire Scout C is bigger — 10 feet longer than the B’s 31.7 feet, a foot higher, and with an operational ceiling 3,000 feet lower than the smaller helo’s 20,000 feet. But the C can fly at 140 knots over the B’s 110; has an internal payload of 1,000 pounds over the B’s 600 pounds; has a gross takeoff weight of 6,000 pounds compared with the B’s 3,150 pounds; and can stay aloft 11 to 14 hours versus the smaller vehicle’s endurance of four to five hours.


“The C will have approximately twice the capability of the B — time on station, payloads — and provides for additional growth, including radar,” said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager at the Naval Air Systems Command. “And because of more endurance, it should have less impact on the crew, who can launch, then recover, the aircraft eight hours later.”


With the change, the Navy has ended procurement of the B model at 30 aircraft, with the last two to be delivered this year. While the Bs will continue to operate, Smith said, there are no further plans to buy the smaller aircraft.


Instead, the Navy intends to order a total of 30 Cs — two test aircraft plus 28 operational aircraft — under an “endurance upgrade.” The first test helicopter is still at Bell’s facility in Ozark, Ala., Smith said, and is expected to be shipped in mid-June to begin tests at the naval air warfare center at Point Mugu, Calif. The first flight of the type is planned for September, with the program aiming to reach initial operating capability in late 2014.


The first at-sea deployment of the C is planned for a destroyer in support of SOCOM, Smith and Corgnati said, and operations from frigates and “all air-capable ships,” including joint high speed vessels, will be studied. But the overall focus continues to be on the LCS.


“The future and main driver for the entire Fire Scout program is LCS,” Corgnati said. “That we can support special operations forces in the interim is [a] bonus.”


But will the larger helo fit on the Navy’s other surface combatants?


“We can store two aircraft on a frigate, a destroyer or an LCS, on one side of the hangar,” said George Vardoulakis, Northrop’s vice president for tactical unmanned systems. “That’s essentially what we’re doing with the Bs as well.


“We’ve modeled it, we’re very confident that we will be hangaring two 8Cs in the space of a 60,” he said. “Operational, not broken down. Absolutely.”


Corgnati admitted there are space challenges, but he also noted that the increased capabilities of the C could mean fewer aircraft would need to be carried.


“Nominally [with the B] you have four-hour aircraft doing 24/7 operations, and you’re launching and recovering every three hours,” he said. “You back that off with an eight-hour platform doing similar coverage.”


He already envisions frigate deployments with three Cs rather than the now-standard 4 Bs.


Neither the Navy nor Northrop Grumman would comment on a revised cost-per-aircraft for the C, since the price depends on how many are bought. The airframe represents about 15 percent of each aircraft’s cost, Vardoulakis said, and he expects the unit price to rise roughly by about $1 million for the larger C. The more aircraft that are bought, the lesser the cost, particularly in later years, he said.


Earlier cost figures had been based on the Navy requirement for 168 Bs.


“We’re certainly worried those lower quantities will impact our costs significantly,” he said.


Northrop is excited, however, about the possibilities with the larger aircraft.


“We’re marketing this aircraft for Marine Corps and Army missions,” Vardoulakis said. “Those offerings have a significantly smaller fuel tank in the center of the aircraft and volume available for storage or medevac.


“There are no active proposals for the Marines and Army,” he said. “We just see a great opportunity for synergy within [the Defense Department] for an aircraft in this class.”


For the Navy, a decision point is coming on whether to continue buying Cs or begin a competition for another aircraft.


“We have a desire to move to a single model,” Corgnati said. “We fully intend to use the Bs for their full service life. The initial LCS deployments will be with the B, then you’re going to see a mix over the next number of years of Bs and Cs deployed on platforms. As you go through natural attrition, the Bs will atrophy to the C or another follow-on.”


A decision on the way ahead is at least “several months” off, Corgnati said.


“Could be we go back out and do a new-start competition?” he said. Pending evaluation of the new aircraft, “everything’s on the table; there’s nothing decided at this point.”

MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Simpson (FFG 56)

MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Simpson (FFG 56)

Smaller Fire Scout Getting Bigger Punch


Improvements continue to be made to the smaller MQ-8B version of the Navy’s Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, including a new effort to arm the diminutive helicopter.


“We’re doing another rapid deployment capability in response to an urgent-needs request from 5th Fleet [in the Middle East],” said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager with Naval Air Systems Command. “We’re integrating the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System on to the B.”


The weapon system uses precision guidance to shoot 2.75-inch folding-fin Hydra-70 rockets with laser-guided pinpoint accuracy. It would give the Fire Scout — hitherto used largely for intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance missions — an impressive, if limited, attack capability.


The $40 million rapid-response program, begun in late 2011, includes development and testing along with six aircraft modification kits, Smith said. Each kit includes pylon arms and launchers to be fitted externally, and an internal wiring kit.


Aircraft are not intended to be permanently modified, but the system would be installed in theater or prior to deployment, he said.


The Navy tested similarly-sized rockets on an early RQ-8A Fire Scout in 2005, but those tests were with unguided weapons. The APKWS uses a newer laser-guided 70mm rocket that’s been in production since 2010.


“There was only one launch pylon” on the earlier tests, Smith said. The APKWS uses two three-tube launchers, he said.


Current plans are to install the system on only the B model of the UAV and not the larger MQ-8C version.


“We’ve done initial analysis with the C to transfer that capability from the B,” Smith said. “But that’s not now a capability that’s going to be delivered on the C.”

NAVAIR-personnel-w APKWS MQ-8 Photo Kelly Schindler

NAVAIR-personnel-w APKWS MQ-8 Photo Kelly Schindler

Live-fire tests with the APKWS and the MQ-8B began in May in California, Smith said, and the service intends to complete the testing in June and then determine “deployment windows,” he said.

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