MQ-8 Fire Scout VTUAV Program: By Land or By Sea
December 7/17: Testing-IOC The US Navy expects to enter the initial operational test and evaluation phase of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter this spring, with sea-based testing onboard a littoral combat ship to follow later that summer. Derived from the four-bladed, single-engined Bell 407, the rotorcraft will replace the smaller MQ-8B based on the Sikorsky S-333, and offers a greater payload, range and endurance than its predecessor. While waiting for the MQ-8C to come online, the Navy continues to fix issues experienced with the B variant such as a capability for the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), and is also working on an interim fix for its MQ-8B radar.
A helicopter UAV is very handy for naval ships, and for armies who can’t always depend on runways. The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has blazed a trail of firsts in this area, but its history is best described as “colorful.” The program was begun by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, revived by the Navy, then canceled by the Army. Leaving it back in the hands of the US Navy. Though the Army is thinking about joining again, and the base platform is changing.
The question is, can the MQ-8 leverage its size, first-mover contract opportunity, and “good enough” performance into a secure future with the US Navy – and beyond? DID describes these new VTUAV platforms, clarifies the program’s structure and colorful history, lists all related contracts and events, and offers related research materials.
MQ-8: The Platform
MQ-8B Fire Scout
MQ-8C: Is Bigger Better?
MQ-8: The Program
MQ-8: Past and Future
Fire Scout Contracts & Key Events
FY 2015 – 2017
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 2000 – 2004
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Fire Scout
News & Views
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