Fire Scout Unmanned Aircraft System
Fire Scout is a combat proven, autonomous helicopter system that provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Target-acquisition (ISR&T), 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&T requirements.
There are two Fire Scout variants. The smaller MQ-8B Fire Scout has deployed on multiple frigates and is currently deployed on a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). MQ-8B Fire Scout has also deployed to Afghanistan to support counter- improvised explosive device (IED) operations. This system has completed more than 16,600 flight hours over 6,200 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 autonomous helicopter. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a mature helicopter with more than 1,600 airframes produced and over 4.4 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman's autonomous systems architecture, Fire Scout meets customer requirements for a ship-based and land-based autonomous 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.