Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems conducted a series of flight tests July 21 at
the Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, Arizona, that culminated in two successful
launches of a 2.75-inch Hydra-class rocket from the Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV).
Fire Scout is programmed to become operational in fiscal year 2009 and deploy
aboard the littoral combat ship. Recently the Fire Scout was re-designated from
RQ-8B to MQ-8B, which reflects the aerial vehicle's multimission functionality.
The live-fire demonstrations were preceded by functional flight tests which
focused on integration of the launcher-related hardware and software. The
functional check flight was followed by a dry run and took place over the same
flight path at identical altitudes the UAV would take once armed with a missile.
The UAV then performed two separate missile firings, with one missile on the
starboard side for each firing run on the preprogrammed route. At the
appropriate waypoint, with altitude approximately 1,850 feet (600+ meters) and
air speed 35 knots, the arm and fire commands were accepted and the missiles
were successfully launched from the Fire Scout.
The Navy is acquiring the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV to fulfill the service's
requirement for a tactical UAV capable of operating in the shipboard
environment. Fire Scout is designed to operate from air-capable ships and will
provide a significant improvement in capability.
With vehicle endurance greater than six hours, Fire Scout will be capable of
continuous operations providing coverage 110 nautical miles from the launch
site. A baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a
laser designator enables Fire Scout to find tactical targets, track and
designate targets, accurately provide targeting data to strike platforms and
perform battle damage assessment.
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