The U.S. Navy is to award Northrop Grumman a contract to supply 28 MQ-8C Fire Scout “rapid deployment capability” (RDC) vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned aircraft using the larger Bell 407 helicopter airframe to increase endurance and payload.
So the Navy spends over a decade developing the MQ-8B Firescout helicopter, and now wants to replace that airframe with the Bell 407 airframe.
The “evolutionary” approach of putting the systems from the earlier iteration into the 407 is relatively low risk. But that doesn’t mean it will be cheap or easy. The Navy will essentially have to perform ALL the integration and testing that they’ve already done with the “B” model. And there’s no guarantee that they won’t run into some problems. And they’ll still face all the problems with connectivity they had in the Operational Test and Evaluation phase of the “B” model.
Here’s a radical thought. How about integrating the sensors and weapons on the 407 airframe, and ask the Army to provide some Warrant Officers to fly them.