31 Oct 13. 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. The aircraft was operated by a ground-based Navy/Northrop Grumman flight test team also located at Naval Base Ventura County. The MQ-8C Fire Scout is designed to fly twice as long and has three times the payload capacity of the current MQ-8B variant. Based on a larger commercial airframe with additional fuel tanks and an upgraded engine, the MQ-8C will be able to fly up to 12 hours or carry up to 2,600 pounds. Currently, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is on its seventh at-sea deployment supporting antipiracy missions on board Navy frigates. The system has also been used extensively in Afghanistan since early 2011 to provide airborne surveillance to ground commanders. Using on-board sensors to capture full-motion video, Fire Scout can identify targets and then distribute the information in real time to various users. This capability allows ship-based commanders to maintain awareness of a specified area or keep an eye on a target of interest for long periods of time. Production of the MQ-8C Fire Scout is being completed at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. The MQ-8C Fire Scout industry team includes Bell Helicopter, Rolls-Royce, Summit Aviation, Cubic Corporation, General Electric Aviation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Honeywell.
06 Nov 13. Belarus and Turkmenistan are planning to jointly produce UAVs, according to an announcement by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during his official visit to Turkmenistan earlier this week, where he discussed the project with his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Lukashenko said his country will supply the know-how to launch joint production of drones in cooperation with the Turkmen government. The new manufacturing facility is to be located in Turkmenistan, Lukashenko was quoted in a statement released by his office Nov. 5. Scientists from the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus will develop the multipurpose UAV, Lukashenko said. Based in Baranovichi, Belarus, state-owned defense company 558 Aircraft Repair Plant is developing and producing various drones, including the middle-range Grif-1 UAV. With the latest initiative, Turkmenistan is joining the ranks of Asian countries interested in acquiring Belarusian unmanned aerial technology. In May 2013, local media reported that Vietnam planned to buy drones from Belarus. The plan was unveiled following talks held in Minsk by Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung. At the meeting, the two prime ministers announced Belarus and Vietnam were aiming to boost their military ties. (Source: Defense News)