Max. Sling Load:
41 ft. 5 in.
10 ft. 11 in.
The Fire Scout helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman and Bell Textron, officially the MQ8C, is designated as an unmanned air system (UAS). It can provide additional beyond the horizon assets.
To accomplishment its primary mission of surveillance, the Fire Scout is equipped with a multi-spectrum targeting system. The system can analyze electronic transmissions, plus any suspicious variations in temperature and illumination for threat detection.
Fire Scout missions include aerial fire support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, precision target acquisition, cargo transport, cargo resupply, and communications relay to operations whether ship, aircraft, or land based.
It can be armed with AGM-175 Griffin or Hellfire missiles and APKWS II guided 70 mm rockets.
Northrop Grumman uses the Bell 407 helicopter as the basis for the Fire Scout. The advantage of using a maturely developed helicopter with over four million flight hours as the basis for the Fire Scout is that it is a tested, proven platform. Rather than having spent a great deal of time to develop a completely new helicopter, development time for the Fire Scout was greatly reduced.
The C model Fire Scout has a larger airframe than the prior B model. It can take off and land on any aviation capable vessel and has double the range and nearly triple the payload of is predecessor.
The Fire Scout is used on land and aboard ships. It is capable of supporting front line troops by landing on unprepared areas. It is designed to work with current and any foreseen future Army and Navy type control systems.
On Sept. 14, 2018 it was announced that during a recent technology exercise the Fire Scout proficiently served as a communications relay and situational awareness platform, working together with a small pilotless surface vessel and an autonomic submarine.
On Feb. 1, 2019 it was announced that the U.S. Navy is purchasing an additional eight Fire Scout aircraft and two lightweight fuel cells for US$55.1 million for delivery by August of 2021.
On June 28, 2019 the U.S. Navy declared initial operational capability of the Fire Scout saying it is ready to join in fleet operations.
On Dec. 10, 2019 the United States Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman US$9,140,087 for "the production and delivery of eight AN/ZPY-8 radar modification kits, eight forward access panel modification kits and all associated non-recurring engineering and qualification efforts in support of Fire Scout mission processor unit upgrades". Work should be finished in April of 2021.
On September 15, 2020, United States Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron HSC-22, based in Norfolk, Virginia, received their first MQ-8C Fire Scout. In so doing it became the first East Coast squadron to deploy MH-60S Seahawk, MQ-8B and MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopters simultaneously.
To date some 30 Fire Scout aircraft of all types have been produced.