The MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is set to undergo testing to ensure it can safely operate within intense electromagnetic environments in preparation for ship-board flights later in 2014 with the US Navy.
The Fire Scout uses specially designed Faraday cages to protect sensitive equipment on the UAV from signal interference during flight. The cage ensures that strong electric fields and electromagnetic interference do not compromise the aircraft’s electric components.
Capt Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager, Naval Air Systems Command, said: ‘All navy aircraft must go through electromagnetic interference testing to ensure they can operate safely in the ship environment. We’re confident that the design of the Faraday cages and other engineering work done on the MQ-8C Fire Scout will pass these tests.’
Summit Aviation was selected in 2012 to manufacture the protective enclosures, which are installed during final assembly of the Fire Scout system.
The MQ-8C is based on a larger helicopter airframe and can fly almost twice as long and carry three times more intelligence-gathering sensor payloads than the MQ-8B variant.
The US Navy placed an order with Northrop Grumman for five additional MQ-8C Fire Scout UAVs earlier this month, bringing the total number of Fire Scout aircraft under contract with the US Navy to 19.