The Navy has ramped up its acquisition of unmanned helicopters for counter piracy missions and maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Defense News reports.
The Navy has ordered eight units of an updated variant of the Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8B Fire Scouts that have been used since 2009 for ISR missions.
The new model uses the frame of the Bell 407 helicopter which is 35 feet long, 11 feet longer than the MQ-8B.
The $262.3 million contract will provide the Navy with unmanned helicopters that have more range and payload.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen Diets, a Navy ground government flight representative said the MQ-8C will provide the Navy with more maritime ISR capabilities than the MQ-8B model.
Defense News also reports that Navy officials have requested the doubling of the original MQ-8B Fire Scout flight hours for Afghan special operations forces.
The Navy currently flies 300 hours in Afghanistan and has 30 MQ-8B in its arsenal.