09 November 2011 by the Shephard News Team
Northrop Grumman has revealed details on the US Navy’s plan to outfit the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter with a weapons system. According to a company statement issued 9 November 2011, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System laser-guided 70mm rocket will be fitted to the UAV enabling the Navy to ‘locate and prosecute targets of interest’.
The Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System laser-guided 70mm rocket has been in production for the Navy since 2010. According to the company Northrop Grumman will develop and deliver the equipment needed to control the weapons system under a $17 million contract awarded to the company 23 September by Naval Air Systems Command. Final delivery of an operational system is expected by March 2013.
The armed Fore Scout will enable ship commanders to identify and engage hostile targets without calling in other aircraft for support, in order to ‘shorten the kill chain’ and lessen the ‘need to put our soldiers in harm’s way’, George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman's vice president for tactical unmanned systems said.
Northrop Grumman says that once delivered, Fire Scout will be Navy's first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. Its ability to operate at low ground speeds makes it particularly well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, antipiracy actions, search and rescue, reconnaissance and port security. Fire Scout features a modular architecture that accommodates a variety of electro-optical, infrared and communications payloads. These payloads provide ground- and ship-based commanders with high levels of situational awareness and precision targeting support.