The United States Navy hit a milestone this month marking the 10th year of flying the pilotless MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter. The Fire Scout has logged over 15,000 flight hours successfully completing multiple missions for the Navy which include providing reconnaissance and vital situational awareness for the Fleet. The aircraft also serves in a precision targeting role which can support ground troops, ships at sea and aircraft.
Watch the MQ-8B Fire Scout in Action on Board the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
The Fire Scout unmanned air system is comprised of up to three MQ-8B Fire Scout air vehicles, ground control stations, and associated control handling and support equipment. With vehicle endurance greater than eight hours, a system will be capable of twelve continuous hours of operations providing coverage 110 nautical miles from the launch site. – NAVAIR
The Northrop Grumman built MQ-8B Fire Scout has an overall length of 31.5 feet, standard weight of 3,150 lbs, cruise speed of 80 knots and a ceiling of 12,500 feet. It can carry a 300 pound payload.
The MQ-8B first flew in 2002 and can be equipped with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a laser guided rocket system.
The Navy is also purchasing the larger, more powerful MQ-8C. It will fly faster and longer than the MQ-8B cruising at 115 knots and can stay airborne up to 12 hours. The C version of the Fire Scout has a greater range of 150 nautical miles and a larger payload capacity of more than 700 pounds. The MQ-8C will initially be flight tested on guided-missile destroyers.
Watch the MQ-8C Fire Scout here
So if anyone tells you the United States Navy is not high tech then think again!
Featured Image by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons