Summit Aviation has delivered the first Faraday avionics protection cage to Northrop Grumman in support of the US Navy’s MQ-8C endurance upgrade Fire Scout unmanned helicopter programme.
Manufactured and delivered under a contract awarded in 2012, the protective enclosure will be used to store and shield the MQ-8C aircraft’s critical electronic components from strong electric fields and electromagnetic waves.
Under the contract, Summit Aviation is also scheduled to provide material and tooling, preparing manufacturing planning and quality documentations, as well as performing the final assembly of the Faraday cage for the unmanned aircraft.
The cage also protects the helicopter’s electrical components that are likely to be damaged due to lightning and other potential electromagnetic interference (EMI) onboard.
Northrop Grumman’s aerospace systems tactical unmanned systems sector vice president George Vardoulakis said: "Adding the Faraday cage to Fire Scout will provide the navy with improved accessibility and maintainability by centrally locating key critical avionics components and protect them from outside electrical interference."
The new MQ-8C Fire Scout is a capability vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) and provides the navy with extended range, payload and cargo hauling capabilities.
The aircraft offers enhanced range, more than double the endurance and increased payload capacity when compared to the MQ-8B variant.
Currently in service onboard the US navy frigates, the MQ-8B is also used in Afghanistan to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to maritime and ground commanders.
Prior to installation on the MQ-8C airframe, integration and testing of the Faraday cages will be conducted at the Northrop’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Mississippi, US.
Northrop will build a total of 28 new MQ-8C endurance upgrade Fire Scouts using a purpose-modified FAA-certified Bell 407 helicopter for the US Navy.
Image: Officials stand beside a Faraday cage during its roll-out ceremony. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.