US Navy Fire Scout Turns into Weaponized UAV

Released on Wednesday, August 17, 2005
United States of America
LCS Freedom
MQ-8B Fire Scout
RQ-8A Fire Scout
UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
VTUAV - Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
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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