Northrop Grumman has conducted the first flight of the enhanced MQ-8B version of the Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV) for the US Navy at Webster Field in Patuxent River, Maryland. Compared to the earlier RQ-8A version, the upgraded Fire Scout has a four-bladed rotor and drive-train improvements to boost payload capacity and endurance, which is increased to more than eight hours. The MQ-8B, which made its initial test flights fully autonomously, is due for initial operational capability aboard the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), in late 2008.

Fire Scout

Source: Flight International