One question about this...
Is the Fire Scout really going anywhere programmatically?... Really?
It seems like a classic case of a Pentagon project on life support, bouncing from the Navy to the Marine Corps and now as part of the Army's (potentially doomed) FCS program.
Despite the upbeat press release, will be ever see these whirlybird drones in combat?
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has successfully performed an engine run of the first U.S. Army MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), the Class IV Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS), at the company's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.
"The engine run is a significant milestone for the FCS program. It marks completion of final assembly of the initial manufacturing phase of the first Army Fire Scout," said Joe Emerson, Northrop Grumman's FCS Fire Scout program manager. "We've been diligent in tracking our costs and meeting milestones such as this, which validates our commitment to quality, technical excellence, cost and delivery. We're definitely looking forward to fielding this aircraft."
The FCS Fire Scout has now completed the initial assembly process and will await delivery of mission avionics and sensors.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout has been flying under a Navy contract since December 2006, but this marked the first time aircraft operations were conducted at the Moss Point site...
...In August 2003, the Fire Scout was selected as the Class IV UAS for the Army's Future Combat Systems. The Fire Scout will be a key element of the Army's tactical intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting architecture, providing real-time imagery, data collection and dissemination at the brigade level.
Northrop Grumman is under a 10-year contract from The Boeing Company and Science Applications International Corporation, the Army's FCS lead systems integrators to develop the system architecture, produce MQ-8B Fire Scout air vehicles, perform system tests and evaluations, and help develop long-lead future requirements.