The US Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout has reached initial operational capability (IOC).
The USN has declared that IOC clears the way for the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to begin fleet operations and training.
The sea-based, vertical lift unmanned system is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.
“This milestone is a culmination of several years of hard work and dedication from our joint government and industry team,” said Capt. Eric Soderberg, Fire Scout program manager. “We are excited to get this enhanced capability out to the fleet.”
The Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout complements the manned MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the navy.
By achieving IOC, the Navy can now begin fleet operations and training, according to the Navy. Current plans call for purchasing 38 Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scouts, which are based on a commercial Bell 407 airframe.
The MQ-8C will be equipped with an upgraded radar that allows for a larger field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a ground moving target indicator (GMTI).
It will deploy with LCS in fiscal year 2021 while the MQ-8B conducts operations aboard LCS in 5th and 7th Fleets.