The Navy has taken delivery of its first of its new version of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, which features a larger airframe for greater range and on-station loitering to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, manufacturer Northrop Grumman [NOC] said Friday.

The first MQ-8C delivering to Naval Air Systems Command. Photo by U.S. Navy

The MQ-8C Fire Scout was turned over to the Navy earlier this month to begin testing before becoming operational in 2014, Northrop Grumman said. The MQ-8C is the follow on to the MQ-8B Fire Scout, which was built by the same company and has been in service for years.

The MQ-8C is based on the 407 airframe built by Textron [TXT] subsidiary Bell Helicopter, and will be capable of 15 hours of flight time, including eight on station–twice that offered by the smaller MQ-8Bs that have been deployed on naval vessels and in Afghanistan for ISR missions.

“The endurance upgrade doubles the time on station of the MQ-8 system and will help reduce the workload for the ship’s crew by cutting the number of times the crew will need to be in flight quarters,” George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for medium range tactical systems, said.

The MQ-8C was developed under an urgent need. Northrop Grumman is currently under contract to build 14 MQ-8Cs. The Navy plans to procure a total of 30.