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MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV Ready to Fly with the Navy, No Xbox Controller Required

Northrop-Grumman's had an absolute banner last few months, seeing the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, a project they played a huge part in constructing. Only a few short weeks later, the team is ready for its next big project. The operational deployment of a radical type of helicopter drone called the MQ-8C Fire Scout.
MQ-8C Fire Scout 6 photos
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The Fire Scout is based upon the design of the Bell 407 utility helicopter, a design serving with American armed forces and law enforcement since the mid-1990s. What sets the Fire Scout apart is its ability to operate for a duration exceeding ten hours and with a range of over 1,000 miles (1609.34 km). A feat that would have been all but impossible even at the very beginning of the 21st century.

The radar and communications systems employed on the autonomous chopper would have been the envy of any army 20 years ago as well. It's a Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 (Osprey) unit that helps the Fire Scout operate in conditions that even manned chopper would have difficulty navigating.

The implications of such a remarkable machine in the emergency troop evacuation role are not hard to understand at all. It gives an edge on any battlefield that's plain to see. With the retirement of the U.S. Marine Corp's fleet of AH-1 Super Cobras in 2020, the addition of more potential future weapons platforms can only be a positive fact.

With an 813 horsepower Rolls-Royce turboshaft engine under the proverbial hood, the Fire Scout can cruise at a maximum speed of 140 knots (160 mph, 260 km/h). A total of 19 pre-production Fire Scouts exist at the moment, compared to the estimated order volume of around 100 first reported in 2015. If all goes well, the skies of future conflicts could be accompanied by a swarm of robot-copters alongside the obligatory Apaches, Vipers, and A-10 Warthogs.

press release

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