Northrop Grumman Corp.
West Falls Church, VA

All Navy aircraft must go through electromagnetic interference testing to ensure that they can operate safely in the ship environment. In preparation for ship-board flights, the Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-8C Fire Scout will be tested for its ability to operate safely in the intense electromagnetic environment aboard U.S. Navy ships. The MQ-8C Fire Scout uses specially designed Faraday cages to protect the aircraft’s sensitive equipment from signal interference.

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 MQ-8C has an overall length of 34.7 ft., weighs 6,000 lbs. with fuel and payload, and flies at a cruise speed of 115 knots. Its top speed is 135 knots and its service ceiling is 16,000 feet.

During the program’s design phase, a team of engineers created a modular Faraday cage that protects electronic systems in flight. The Faraday cages are built by Summit Aviation in Somerset, Kentucky, and installed during final assembly at Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Mississippi.

Since Oct. 31, the MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown 102 flights. The initial flight tests will validate that the autonomous control systems of the helicopter are working properly before its first ship-based demonstration.

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