Northrop Grumman has conducted the first flight of the unmanned MQ-8C. A ground-based group from the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman flew the aircraft on Oct. 31 from Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, Calif. The initial flight took seven minutes to validate the aircraft’s autonomous control systems, and a second flight lasted nine minutes reaching an altitude of 500 feet. The MQ-8C uses a modified Bell 407 airframe and a Rolls-Royce 250-C47E engine, while its “B” predecessor was derived from the Schweizer 333. The initial MQ-8A utilized the Schweizer 330 as a base airframe.
According to Northrop Grumman, the range of the MQ-8C is twice as far as the B version, with payload capacity three times the amount of the MQ-8B. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) initial operating capability (IOC) of the MQ-8C is scheduled for 2016. Northrop Grumman MQ-8C partners include Bell, Cubic Corp., GE Aviation, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, Sierra Nevada and Summit Aviation.
Related: Unmanned News