November 11, 2013
Credit: Alan Radecki
Imagine an upgrade that leaves an aircraft's cockpit and avionics unmodified, but completely swaps out the airframe. Not a scaling up, as with Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter, but a switch to a different air vehicle from a different manufacturer.
That is what Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have done with the Fire Scout ship-based vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned aircraft system, developing the 6,000-lb.-gross-weight MQ-8C air vehicle, based on the commercial Bell 407 light helicopter, to replace the 3,200-lb. MQ-8B, which is based on the Sikorsky/Schweizer S.333.