Northop Grumman and Bell Helicopter are partnering to develop a medium range vertical unmanned aerial system (VUAS) based on Bell’s 407 light single helicopter.
To be known as Fire-X, the optionally manned VUAS will integrate the unmanned systems architecture developed by Northrop Grumman for the US Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout program. The Fire-X will be designed to operate with current and future military standards-based control systems including the US Navy’s Tactical Control Station and the US Army’s One System ground control station.
The Fire-X’s is expected to be able to carry a 1180kg underslung, a 1360kg internal payload and offer a 14 hour endurance.
Both companies are aiming to have the Fire-X concept ready for a new medium range UAS competition for the US Navy anticipated in 2011.
The first flight of a Fire-X prototype is expected before the end of 2010.