Northrop Grumman gets Fire Scout MQ-8C contract
April 23, 2012
...A $262.3 million contract has been awarded to Northrop Grumman for work on eight
Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, with nearly half the work to be done in Moss Point,
Miss., the Department of Defense announced Monday.
...The contract provides for the development, manufacture and test of two Fire Scouts, as
well as production of six air vehicles and spare parts in support of the rapid deployment
capability effort. Other work locations are San Diego, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz. Work is
expected to be completed in May 2014.
...The “rapid deployment” Fire Scouts are the MQ-8C version, formerly known as Fire-X,
which is a larger version of the Fire Scout that uses at Bell 407 airframe. It is a larger,
more capable version of the MQ-8B, which uses a Schweizer 333 airframe.
...Moss Point has done all the integration and installation work of the MQ-8B version and
will do the same work on the MQ-8C version.
...Fire Scout first went to sea for tests in late 2008 aboard the USS McInerney and made
naval aviation history in October 2009 with its first operational deployment. In January
2012 two Fire Scouts were deployed aboard the frigate USS Simpson. It was the first time
Fire Scouts were deployed as the only air asset on the ship. One of the Fire Scouts was
ditched at sea late last month when it was unable to lock on to the landing system. The
Fire Scout was recovered.
...In April 2011, three Fire Scouts were sent to Afghanistan to provide troops with real-time
surveillance video. The Navy extended the tour through most of 2012. In an April 6
incident, one of the Fire Scouts crashed in northern Afghanistan while on a surveillance
...The Navy is investigating the two unrelated operational mishaps.
...Enemy fire has also brought down a Fire Scout. One MQ-8B on a surveillance mission
over Libya was shot down in June 2011, prompting the Navy to move forward with plans to
arm the Fire Scouts so they will be able to deal with threats.
...The Navy has 14 Fire Scouts, and since 2006 they have accumulated more than 5,000
flight hours with more than 3,000 in operational deployments. The Navy plans to buy 168
Fire Scouts, but the mix of B and C variants is unclear. The average number of Fire
Scouts going out the door in a year will increase to 10 from the current three, officials said
earlier this year. -
David Tortorano, GCAC, 04/23/12
Northrop Grumman Fire Scout MQ-8C. Photo by Chad Slattery