first published on July 11, 2018 by Josh
Northrop Grumman developed the MQ-8C Fire Scout, which was code named Fire-X during development, for the United States Navy. The first MQ-8C was delivered to the U.S. Navy in July of 2013 for use in Naval Special Operations. Initially the platforms were designed around the Bell 407 air-frame with fully autonomous controls. It was then heavily modified with a Rolls-Royce 250-C47E engine in order to give the platform more endurance in the air so that it could better support operations by the United States Navy. This modified engine gives the MQ-8C 5 percent increase in hot and high power, 2 percent reduced fuel consumption, 8 percent increase in rated takeoff power, and better reliability with a flight time of 12 hours and a range of 150 nautical miles.
Early tests of the platform were conducted at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. These flights were tests that proved the concept to the United States Navy, eventually giving Northrop Grumman a $262.3 million contract from the Navy to build the newly designated MQ-8C Fire Scout. Its primary roles at the time were to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces. Naval Special Operations intended to use the platform as an autonomous fire support system for their SEAL Teams when those groups are in locations that would not allow conventional flight operations to support them safely.
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Navy conducted a milestone operational test of their first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters while underway. They were successfully able to launch and recover one of the unmanned rotary wing assets while underway from the flight deck of an LCS class ship. The unmanned helicopter flew a minor operation with the support of a manned MH-60S Seahawk and provided supplementary support for the operation from the deck of the USS Coronado (LCS 4), which is one of four designated test ships in the LCS class assigned to Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE.
The following video comes to Funker530 courtesy of the U.S. Navy and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Charles E. White aboard the USS Coronado (LCS 4).