According to a new contract announced last Wednesday, the U.S. Navy will use Linux as the foundation for its drone fleet. The endeavor will cost about $34 million for the entire fleet of MQ-8B Firescouts.
Defence Professionals reports that the no-compete contract between the Navy and Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems is “to complete Linux transition on the tactical control system software for vertical take-off unmanned air vehicle ground control stations.” The cost is $27,883,883, in addition to $5,175,075 of funding set to expire at the end of the year.
According to the Register, the U.S. Navy currently has only one VTOL drone model: the MQ-8B Firescout. These helicopter drones have already been deployed to Africa, Afghanistan, Libya and have also seen some action in the never-ending war on drugs. Although the Navy plans to eventually use 168 of the drones, the current number of robot helicopters appears to be less than that figure.
The Navy has not disclosed its reasoning behind the switch to Linux, but the Register theorizes that it might have something to do with the malware issues that have popped up with other drone programs. We’ve already seen how keyloggers and other pieces of malicious software had somehow found their way into the secure Windows systems in the U.S., used to control drones like the Reapers and Predators flying over Afghanistan. While there appeared to be no danger, it was a wake-up call for the armed forces, and this could be the Navy’s response source