The MQ-8B Fire Scout‘s design is based on the Schweizer Aircraft 330 helicopter. It’s also based on the RQ-8B VTUAV System which the U.S. Navy is currently testing and evaluating. Production of the Fire Scout began in 2000, though the MQ-8B was not used extensively until May of 2002.
The U.S. Navy and Army each have their own version: the MQ-8B Navy Fire Scout and the Army MQ-8B Fire Scout, respectively. The Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter, or Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle System (“VTUAV”).
The Scout can operate from a naval aircraft carrier or any other naval ship that can accommodate rotary-engine aircraft. The unmanned helicopter can also land in and takeoff from locations that are not suitable for fixed-wing aircraft. This makes the Fire Scout particularly valuable in combat locations where runways are not immediately available. The Navy also uses the MQ-8B Fire Scout as advanced support to pinpoint targets.
The MQ-8B Army Fire Scout is also used to pinpoint targets in advance of artillery or ground troops, but additionally the helicopter can be used to relay communications and logistics for the Army’s Future Force. The unmanned Fire Scout can also work with, and for, ground personnel at their discretion and command.
Moreover, the MQ-8B is useful for surveillance and reconnaissance missions deep in enemy territory. Its onboard laser rangefinder and designator are used in conjunction with an infrared or electro-optical sensor to locate and identify enemy targets. On command, the MQ-8B Fire Scout can fire weapons at confirmed targets and relay battle damage to operational commanders.
Technical and performance data of the MQ-8B Fire Scout includes:
Maximum speed: 125+ Knots
Length (folded): 22.87′
Rotor Diameter: 27.5′
Maximum weight: 3,150′
Flight time with baseline payload: 8+ Hours
Flight time with 500 lb payload: 5+ Hours
Engine(s): Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20W
Primary contractor: Northrop Grumman