Japan seeking to buy newest US-made unmanned helicopter

The Northrop Grumman’s representative said that Japan could be the first export customer for the newest MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

Japan is considering an acquisition of MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter developed by the Northrop Grumman to operate from its new Izumo-class amphibious assault ships.

Now the Japanese government is close to signing a deal for supply newest unmanned helicopter, it could be the first export customer for MQ-8C, said the representative during the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in the United Kingdom.

The newest MQ-8C is a combat proven, autonomous helicopter system that provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Target-acquisition (ISR&T), laser designation, and battle management to tactical users without relying on manned aircraft or space-based assets. Fire Scout has the ability operate from any air-capable ship or land base in support persistent ISR&T requirements.

On board of the Izumo-class helicopter carriers, the unmanned helicopter could be used as an organic sensor to strike a target beyond visual range, to conduct reconnaissance and help control the combat situation around the ships formations.

According to the Northrop Grumman, this system has completed more than 16,600 flight hours over 6,200 sorties. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a mature helicopter with more than 1,600 airframes produced and over 4.4 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman’s autonomous systems architecture, Fire Scout meets customer requirements for a ship-based and land-based autonomous systems.

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Source: 09 Defense Blog

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