The US Navy (USN) plans to equip the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout rotary-winged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with an electronic warfare (EW) capability through the development of a new external pod, the Department of Defense (DoD) disclosed on 1 May.
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", the DOD listing said.
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 n miles and a payload capacity over 317 kg.
The USN is scheduled to receive 28 MQ-8Cs to augment the 168 MQ-8Bs it plans to operate in both the 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.