Northrop Grumman received a contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) to build the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter based on the Bell 407 airframe. The contract, announced April 23, has a not-to-exceed cost ceiling of $262 million for two demonstration and six production MQ-8Cs.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) reported progress in arming the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV, which will be the Navy’s first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. The command said its structures rotary-wing division and the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout team are “working briskly” at Webster Field Annex in Patuxent River, Md., to support an urgent operational needs request from Naval Forces Central Command.
Sikorsky is now anticipating FAA certification of the S-434 light single for early next year, slightly later than the previous target date, which was this month. An improved Schweizer S-333, the S-434 sports a four-blade rotor, a new tail-rotor blade design, a structurally enhanced landing gear, a new trim system and an improved Kaflex driveshaft. The main rotor and its transmission come from the unmanned Fire Scout. The S-434 and the S-333 use the same Rolls-Royce 205-C20W turboshaft, which provides 320 shp.
Companies are lining up for the U.S. Navy’s medium-range, maritime unmanned aerial system (MRMUAS) requirement, a planned follow-on to the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
Bell Helicopter Textron has high hopes that three aircraft making their Dubai Air Show debuts–the Bell 407AH and 429, and Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor–will soon find permanent homes in the Middle East.
The U.S. Army and Navy will coordinate their requirements for a future unmanned medium-range helicopter, officials said at the Unmanned Systems North America conference last week in Washington, D.C. Such has been the interest in unmanned VTOL systems that programs and requirements seem to have proliferated, leading to potentially duplicative and costly developments.
Sikorsky will start certification testing on the S-434 light turbine single in January, thus postponing the target certification date to December next year.
Sikorsky is to start certification testing on the S-434 light single helicopter in January, thus postponing FAA certification to a targeted December 2011, AIN has learned. With this improved Schweizer 333, engineers already have completed some 50 hours of development flight tests to “mitigate risks and develop new systems,” according to company spokesperson.
There are surprisingly active developments in the single-engine helicopter field, with new rotorcraft on the way such as the turbine-powered Robinson R66 and Sikorsky S-434. Kit manufacturer RotorWay is even coming to market with a planned certified turbine helicopter, the 300T Eagle, announced at last year’s EAA AirVenture show. The Russian Helicopters Mi-34S2 Sapsan will also offer turbine power.
Both product support and research and development have taken hits in the helicopter industry as cash flow and current sales shrink, while future orders are clouded by important changes and growing uncertainty in key customer sectors.
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