Northrop Grumman continues to test its developmental Fire-X unmanned helicopter, in response to the navy's need for an unmanned platform with long endurance.
The company, however, says the navy's adoption of Fire-X, which is based on the Bell 407 helicopter, is not a "done deal."
In April, Northrop executives confirmed the US Navy's first unmanned helicopter, the MQ-8B Fire Scout, is to be supplanted by a new airframe. Northrop added that the navy is interested in an option to rapidly arm the new unmanned helicopter, mainly out of concern for a "swarming boats" threat.
Considerably larger than the MQ-8B, the Fire-X would have longer range and endurance. It would also be able to carry under-slung loads of up 1,200kg (2,646lb).
Northrop added that there has been considerably foreign interest in Fire Scout. Officials from international navies have visited the USA for demonstrations of the aircraft, although none has ordered it.
While Fire-X could also be of interest to foreign buyers, its longer range would mean it falls under the US Missile Technology Control Regime. This could prove a stumbling block to foreign sales.