Boeing and Northrop Grumman are preparing to compete for a potential Singapore navy requirement for a shipborne vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle that could be used in conjunction with naval helicopters that the country plans to order by early next year.

Northrop Grumman is pitching its MQ-8 Sea Scout, which has a new four-blade rotor recently test flown on a US Navy RQ-8A Fire Scout. The US company plans to exhibit the Fire Scout at Singapore's IMDEX 2003 maritime defence show, which was due to take place next month but which has been postponed because of the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus in Asia.

Boeing could offer its fixed-wing SeaScan, which first flew last year and which has been developed in concert with Insitu Group.

A naval UAV purchase would form part of its plan to upgrade its corvettes, say industry sources.

Singapore is expected to select a new naval helicopter in its current fiscal year, which ends on 31 March 2004, and is evaluating the Eurocopter AS532SC Cougar, NH Industries NH90 and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk.

Source: Flight International