First unmanned helicopter, MQ-8C Fire Scout, takes to the skies

The next generation of helicopters is upon us and pilots should start looking for new work: the MQ-8C Fire Scout flies itself.

Okay, so right now the chopper has only clocked up two flights, one at seven minutes and another at nine, never going above 500ft. But considering this is a full sized military helicopter that's being controlled by a ground-based flight team, it's pretty impressive. 

Read: First unmanned flight takes place in UK airspace, 500-mile trip controlled remotely

Imagine a helicopter that can fly into dangerous enemy territory without much worry about it being shot down then pick up soldiers from threat zones and have an extra seat to spare. Plus there's no windows needed so the whole thing can be bullet-proof.

George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman's vice=president for medium range tactical systems. "During at-sea deployments, operators saw the need for a system that carried the same intelligence-gathering capabilities of the MQ-8B, but fly longer and carry additional payloads. Changing out the airframe, installing control systems and avionics, and then conducting a first flight of the system in a year is truly remarkable. I couldn't be more proud of the team."

The MQ-8C is based on a Bell 407 helicopter and has a 12 hour carry time for up to 1180 kg. Northrop Grumman, who achieved the project, is under contract to supply the US Navy with the first eight of 30 planned MQ-8C Fire Scouts that are set to enter service by mid-2014.



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