The Navy's big beefy next-gen helicopter drone takes flight

Recently, a new aircraft took off from the tarmac at Point Mugu air force base in California. Looking much like a manned, civilian helicopter, the vehicle was instead a drone. It's also a lot more advanced than its mundane appearance would have you believe.

The aircraft is called the MQ-8C Fire Scout and it's an improvement over a previous Navy drone, the MQ-8B. As was the job of it's predecessor, the new helicopter drone will be a surveillance aircraft, equipped with cameras, radar and a suite of other sensors. During war time, the Fire Scout can be used to monitor troop movements and to verify whether or not an approaching vessel is hostile or not.

Capable of staying in the air for 12 hours at a time, the MQ-8C will be capable of hauling 2,600 pounds of cargo. It's larger frame will also allow the new Fire Scout to adapt to differing deployment scenarios with optional modular components. So while the Fire Scout may look like your average news helicopter, it could very well be that this is the new face of the Navy's flexible, modular warbird.

Northrop Grumman, via Cnet

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