MQ-8B Fire Scout
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: Class IV UAS and RQ-8B Fire Scout
Origin: United States of America
Corporations: Northrop Grumman
* and Schweizer Aircraft
(*) lead contractor
Description: In early 2004 the FCS lead systems integrators, Boeing and SAIC, selected Northrop-Grumman RQ-8B Fire Scout as the FCS Class IV Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The FCS Class IV UAS will perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, Targeting and Precision Strike missions.
The RQ-8B UAS will feature a new four-blade rotor, versus the three-blade rotor of A models, that will provide better flight characteristics and the capability to accommodate greater payloads. The flight endurance carrying a 130-pound (59 kg) payload will exceed eight hours. The maximum payload capacity could reach the 600-pound figure.
The weapon options related to the Class IV UAS will include laser guided APKWS rockets and Viper Strike precision munitions. The electronic package, ground control station, sensors and other equipment must be selected by FCS lead systems integrators.
Typically, the Class IV UAS (Fire Scout) will operate at 150 nautical miles from its ground station carrying a wide range of payloads depending on the mission requirement.
In 2005, the RQ-8B was re-designated as the MQ-8B Fire Scout to reflect its multi-mission capabilities which included the ability to fire weapons in addition to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities demonstrated on the RQ-8A model. The US Navy slated the MQ-8B UAV to be fielded with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) beginning in 2009.
As of early 2006, Northrop-Grumman was producing 12 MQ-8B Fire Scout aircraft. Four for the US Navy and eight for the US Army.
In August 2006, the US Navy awarded Northrop-Grumman a $136 million modification contract to complete the Vertical Take-off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase through 2008. A total of nine MQ-8B Navy Fire Scouts are planned to be built under the SDD phase. In February 2007, the US Navy ordered two more aircraft.
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