An unmanned helicopter being produced for the U.S. Navy fired up its engine for the first time last week, getting closer to an inaugural flight.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout, made by Northrop Grumman, is meant to be deployment ready for the Navy by 2014, according to a release from the manufacturer.
All of the drone’s blades were turned on at the ground testing Friday at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., allowing aircraft engineers to collect data on the processes.
“Completion of these tests signifies our steady progress toward the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president of medium range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman.
The latest version of the Fire Scout unmanned helo—which appears the same as a manned one, except for the matte grey paint where glass windows would be—is supposed to fly longer and carry more weight than previous models.