MQ-8 Fire Scout VTUAV Program: By Land or By Sea
July 12/18: Test – Test The Navy is currently testing its MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS. A press release confirms that the UAV finished its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation from the littoral combat ship USS Coronado. The MQ-8C “Endurance Upgrade Fire Scout” is based on Bell Helicopter’s 3-ton 407 model, which serves as the base for the Iraqi Air Force’s manned IA-407-armed scout helicopters. MQ-8C is effectively a full-sized light naval utility helicopter, with 8 hours endurance carrying a 1,250-pound payload, and a maximum underslung payload of more than 2,600 pounds. The crew of the Coronado and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, or VX-1, conducted combat simulations to evaluate the Fire Scout on target identification, intelligence and surface warfare, the results of which will help the Navy decide how best to use the rotorcraft. The unit also evaluated best practices concerning pairing the Fire Scout and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. The Fire Scout has a range of nearly 600 miles and can fly to up to 12,500 feet. The Fire Scout can be armed with Hellfire and Viper Strike missiles, alongside several other weapons systems.
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 – 2018
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 2000 – 2004
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Fire Scout
News & Views
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