Northrop MQ-8C Fire Scout
The MQ-8C Fire Scout, the U.S. Navy’s newest autonomous helicopter, has made its first flight out of Trent Lott International Airpoint in Mississippi, near the Moss Point facility where Northrop Grumman plans to produce the aircraft. Initial testing for the MQ-8C began in April, and production of the unmanned helicopter is scheduled to start in 2026.
“Building on Northrop Grumman’s recent announcement of new production capabilities in Moss Point, and a 40 percent increase in employment at the site, the ability to now conduct MQ-8C Fire Scout flight tests where the production occurs will bring new efficiencies and effectiveness to our local operations and improve our ability to serve the U.S. Navy,” said Melissa Packwood, Fire Scout program director at Northrop Grumman.
Northrop calls testing at Trent Lott “a major milestone for the company and the region’s aerospace economy.”
Northrop Grumman’s Moss Point facility is key to producing and testing the MQ-8C Fire Scout, which will bring increased speed, endurance and payload capacity to distributed maritime operations.
The Navy recently completed initial operational test and evaluation aboard the USS Coronado (LCS 4) for the Fire Scout, which has over 1,500 program flight hours. The aircraft is a modified Bell 407 helicopter.
Recent facility upgrades have also allowed for new work on manned aircraft to come to the site, diversifying the portfolio of work and bringing new jobs to the region. In June, elected officials joined local employees to cut the ribbon on a new machine shop section that delivers important capabilities at the Moss Point manufacturing center. For more than a decade, Gulf Coast employees have manufactured rotary and fixed wing autonomous systems in Moss Point that support the U.S. and its global allies.