The U.S. Navy upped its order for unmanned helicopters from Northrop Grumman Corp., ordering another six MQ-8C Fire Scouts in a $71 million contract.

The MQ-8C upgrade of the Fire Scout improves range, endurance and payload capacity for ship commanders from the previous variant, according to a press release from Northrop Grumman.

Under a rapid development effort, the Navy plans to purchase 30 of the MQ-8C aircraft, of which 14 will be manufactured by Northrop Grumman. The Fire Scouts are set to start deploying in 2014.

"This contract provides significant momentum for the work Northrop Grumman and its supply chain partners are doing to meet the Navy's requirements," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems with Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.