Fire Scout’s Enhanced Capabilities Support Advanced Combat Role
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Northrop Grumman Corp.’s autonomous Fire Scout helicopters, the MQ-8B and MQ-8C, continued to strengthen the combat capability and lethality of the U.S. Navy’s air and surface warfare communities throughout 2017, the company said in a Dec. 6 release.
The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman enhanced Fire Scout’s capability, concepts of operations and mission sets by demonstrating targeting capabilities at-sea, over land, teaming with manned assets, and integrating new technologies.
For the first time, Fire Scout’s manned/unmanned teaming capabilities proved station-to-station hand offs of two Fire Scouts and the ability to stream organic intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting data to an Amphibious Readiness Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit.
With a radar already integrated onto the MQ-8B, the U.S. Navy has also started integrating an active, electronically scanned array radar onto the MQ-8C. The addition of this advanced radar to the long-range, longer-endurance MQ-8C will greatly enhance any surface action group’s ability to strike at distance and increase situational awareness over broad maritime and littoral environments.
“2017 has been a pivotal year for Fire Scout,” said Capt. Jeff Dodge, U.S. Navy Fire Scout program manager. “Today, operational squadrons are deployed and more are preparing to deploy to meet the expanding needs of the U.S. Navy. The fleet has only scratched the surface of Fire Scout’s true capabilities and the missions Fire Scout will perform. Fleet capability will only grow as the MQ-8C Fire Scout enters the operational force.”
“This was another strong year of performance for Fire Scout and the U.S. Navy” said Melissa Packwood, program director, Fire Scout, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Fire Scout is affordably delivering new mission capability and with an integrated radar on both variants, it is a versatile and powerful autonomous system for the maritime environment.”
“Our mission engineering approach allows us to anticipate and solve some of the fleet’s toughest problems with today’s MQ-8B Fire Scouts,” said Jack Thomas, mission engineering director, Fire Scout, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Meanwhile, MQ-8C’s increased capability will enable the U.S. Navy to address emerging threats with new capabilities like Link 16 for collaborative engagement with net-enabled weapons in the near future.”