Andrea Shalal-Esa writes the Navy’s updated Fire Scout aircraft flew for 7 minutes across Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mogu, Calif. on Thursday.
The chopper flew for 9 minutes at an altitude of 500 feet on a second flight, according to the report.
George Vardoulakis, Northrop vice president of medium-range tactical systems, told Reuters the variation is designed to operate longer and hold more equipment, such as sensors, than its older version.
Northrop also intends for the MQ-8C to travel up to 12 hours, carry a payload of 2, 600 pounds and launch from a naval ship’s flight deck, Shalal-Esa writes.
The company built the helicopter to fly twice as long and have three times the payload capacity as its predecessor, according to Reuters.
Reuters reports the Navy intends to start operating the new Fire Scout next year.
Companies that are part of Northrop’s team working to produce the UAV include Bell Helicopter, Rolls-Royce, Summit Aviation, Cubic Corporation, General Electric Aviation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Honeywell.