US: The US Navy plans to equip the Northrop Grumman built MQ-8C Fire Scout rotary-winged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with an electronic warfare (EW) capability through the development of a new external pod. Under a contract listing, Northrop Grumman is being given USD10.8 million to develop and integrate the new Multi Capability Pod (MCAP) onto the MQ-8C. “The MCAP will provide the UAV with multiple electronic warfare sensors for employment in the littorals,” said a spokesperson from the Department of Defense, US. Work is scheduled to be completed in June 2015.
Developed from the Bell 407 manned helicopter, the MQ-8C Fire scout will provide an enhanced capability over its smaller MQ-8B namesake, which is modelled on the smaller Schweizer Aircraft model 330 helicopter. The MQ-8C has a range of about 150 nautical miles and a payload capacity over 317 kg. The US Navy is scheduled to receive 28 MQ-8C which will operate in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and unmanned strike roles. Sea-trials of the MQ-8C aboard the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship are set to run through to early 2015, with the first deployment scheduled for 2016.