In a move to ramp up the security of its VTOL fleet , the U.S. Navy has signed a reported $28 million deal with major American defense contractor Raytheon to install the Linux operating system on its vertical take off and landing drones. In September last year, ground control systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada were reportedly infected with a credential-stealing malware that made its way into the ground systems from a portable hard drive. These ground systems are used to control weapons and surveillance functions. On the other hand, the U.S. Navy reportedly has only one VTOL drone model – the Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B Fire Scout.

Based on Northrop Grumman’s description of its drone, the MQ-8B Fire Scout reportedly has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to the soldier in contact. The U.S. Navy’s contract with Raytheon will call for a Linux transition on the tactical control system software of the MQ-8B Fire Scout. The Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout has already been deployed in the Caribbean to detect illegal drug shipments. The Navy reportedly has plans of duplicating the Fire Scout to a fleet of around 168 drones. The Navy also said that the drones has also be fitted with 70mm rockets for special missions.

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