MQ-8C Fire Scouts on the assembly line at Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing center in Moss Point, Mississippi.
Photo: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman Corp. is set to build 10 more MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters for the U. S. Navy to provide persistent, real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The addition brings the total number of MQ-8C Fire Scout air vehicles the U.S. Navy has acquired to 29.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a helicopter with more than 1,600 airframes produced and more than 4.4 million flight hours. Modifications to the MQ-8C airframes are carried out at the Bell Helicopter facility in Ozark, Alabama, while final assembly is performed in Moss Point, Mississippi.

MQ-8C Fire Scout has completed operational assessment, a developmental flight test program, and is now preparing for Milestone C. MQ-8C Fire Scout has accrued more than 730 flight hours and flown 353 sorties.

Capt. Jeff Dodge, program manager, Fire Scout, Naval Air Systems Command, says, “We are looking forward to moving the MQ-8C to operational testing and deployment as a part of surface warfare mission packages.” www.navair.navy.mil; www.northropgrumman.com/firescout

DOD awards UAS sensor integration contract to Kratos

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. has been awarded a $12.6 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), in coordination with U.S. Strategic Command and the Strategic Capabilities Office, to explore the use of high-speed drones in fully autonomous or semi-autonomous roles to support fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Kratos will integrate sensors into its UTAP-22, a high-performance unmanned jet aircraft, to demonstrate in a large, complex exercise.

The Kratos UTAP-22, an internally funded Kratos development initiative, has previously demonstrated the ability to conduct collaborative airborne operations with an AV-8B Harrier manned fighter aircraft, command and control through the tactical data link, semi-autonomous tasks, autonomous flight in formation with the AV-8B, transfer control between over-the-horizon operators of multiple UTAP-22 drones in the tactical network, and transfer control from the tactical network to an independent control link. www.kratosdefense.com; www.diux.mil

Delair-Tech acquires Trimble’s Gatewing UAS business

Toulouse, France-based professional drones manufacturer Delair-Tech has purchased Gatewing, Trimble’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business based in Belgium. The company also allied with Trimble as its preferred provider of UAS solutions.

Delair-Tech is teaming up with microdrones, a supplier of multirotor systems, to jointly become official suppliers for Trimble’s worldwide distribution network that sells UAS and image-processing systems to the construction, agriculture, transport, geomatics, and energy sectors.

Trimble will focus on software technology for UAS that integrates positioning, remote sensing, and photogrammetry. Delair-Tech will increase its total workforce to 100 employees. www.delair-tech.com; www.microdrones.com; www.trimble.com