Fire Scout Unmanned Aircraft System
Fire Scout is a combat proven, unmanned helicopter system that provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), target-acquisition, laser designation, and battle management to tactical users without relying on manned aircraft or space-based assets. Fire Scout has the ability operate from any air-capable ship or land base in support persistent ISR requirements.
There are two Fire Scout variants. The smaller MQ-8B has deployed on multiple frigates and is currently deployed on a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). MQ-8B has also deployed to Afghanistan to support counter- improvised explosive device (IED) operations. This system has completed more than 15,650 flight hours and over 5,800 sorties. The Navy has integrated a multi-mode maritime radar on MQ-8B and tested an onboard weapons capability, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS). The MQ-8B Fire Scout has also demonstrated the ability to operate concurrently with other manned aircraft while operating at-sea.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout is the Navy’s next generation unmanned helicopter. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a mature helicopter with more than 1,400 airframes produced and over 4 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman's unmanned systems architecture, Fire Scout meets customer requirements for a ship-based and land-based unmanned systems. It also has the ability to autonomously take-off and land on any aviation-capable ship and from prepared and unprepared landing zones. This enhancement significantly increases range and endurance (more than double) and payload capacity (more than triple). The MQ-8C has completed developmental testing and is ready to deploy.