MQ-8B Fire Scout
MQ-8B Navy Fire Scout
The Navy Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle System (VTUAV) system provides unprecedented situation awareness, precision targeting support for the U.S. Navy of the future. It has the ability to autonomously take off and land from any aviation-capable warship and at unprepared landing zones.
The system includes advanced Ground Control Stations that encompass the U.S. Navy’s Tactical Control System (TCS), Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL), and Robust Communications. A modular mission payload capability allows continued growth into new payloads, and a highly reliable air vehicle meets or exceeds all performance criteria.
With a total endurance of 7+ hours, the Fire Scout can provide more than 5 hours time on station with a standard payload at 110 nm (200 km) from the launch site. A system of two Fire Scouts can provide continuous coverage at 110 nm. Utilizing a baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser rangefinder / designator, the Fire Scout can find and identify tactical targets, track and designate targets, accurately provide targeting data to strike platforms, employ precision weapons, and perform battle damage assessment.
Acting as a communications node with its 3 ARC-210 radios within the proposed Network- Centric Warfare Battlespace, the Fire Scout will increase the effectiveness and flexibility of the C4I Architecture. The program is managed by the U.S. Navy’s PMA-263 Unmanned Vehicles Program Office (Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation) at Patuxent River, Maryland.
The Fire Scout Class IV UAV provides unprecedented situational awareness, precision targeting and engagement, communications relay and unmanned logistics delivery for FCS and the Army’s Future Force. The Fire Scout system upports multidimensional airground operations and manned-unmanned teaming and connectivity to Army and Joint Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) and communications systems.
The Fire Scout has the ability to autonomously take off and land at unprepared and unimproved landing zones in close proximity to Corps, Division and Brigade CPs and Tactical Operations Centers.
Modular mission packages facilitate continued growth into new payloads, including a Tactical Synthetic Aperture Radar (TSAR/MTI), a 4 channel JTRS suite for communications relay, a SIGINT package, a training sensor, Mine, Chemical and Radiological detection, a RF emissions locator, with spiral upgrades to include an Obstacle Avoidance System (OASYS), and Weaponization (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System or Viper Strike). The highly reliable COTS air vehicle meets or exceeds performance criteria for the FCS Class IV UAV and possesses growth potential for enhanced speed, range and payload capacity.
With an endurance of over seven hours with the baseline payload, the Fire Scout is capable of continuous operations. Its baseline payload of EO/IR sensors and a laser range finder–designator means Fire Scout can quickly and accurately detect, locate, identify, track, designate targets and perform battle damage assessment on targets. Acting as a communications node with its Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) components Fire Scout extends the effectiveness and flexibility of the C2 and C4ISR architecture. Fire Scout equipped FCS Units of Action will enable commanders to see first, understand first, act first and finish decisively as a lethality or engagement associate. In the Quick Delivery mode, the Fire Scout can accurately and continuously deliver 500 pound loads to forward elements.
The Fire Scout Class IV UAV is based on the highly successful RQ-8B VTUAV System currently in test and evaluation for the U.S. Navy. The system has been in development and low-rate initial production since 2000 and has flown extensive flights since May of 2002.
(Based on resources provided by Northrop Grumman.)