Fire Scout Mired in FCS Rumble


We're cruising the halls of Sea Air Space this week -- the Navy League's annual big time expo in Washington, DC -- and trolling around for news big and small. We'll post here often with little tidbits that might strike your fancy, so check back often to read the latest.

OK, back to business...

Went to a poorly-attended briefing today with the folks from Northrop Grumman on their MQ-8B Fire Scout rotor-wing UAV. Too bad, because they broke a little news there both on the Navy side of their program and on the Army version they're building for the Class IV UAV in the FCS program.

First of all, and many of you might already know this and, frankly, I haven't been as closely following this as I should have, but the Army chose not to send their Fire Scout copters to Iraq as a preliminary evaluation. We reported this might be happening last summer, but it dropped off our radar until now.

The plan was to field as many as eight Fire Scouts to Army forces in Iraq by 2008.

The NorGrum #2 official in charge of UAV systems gave one reason for the Army's decision to kank the deal. First of all the suppliers of the systems the MQ-8Bs were supposed to fly with over there weren't able to deliver on time.The Army wanted the forward deployed Fire Scouts to hunt for mine and IEDs and keep an ear open for enemy radio traffic. But no joy, the NorGrum exec said.

But I also heard whispers that the Army didn't want a successful Fire Scout deployment to upstage other FCS initiatives that are biting and scratching for funds. So much for the whole idea of spiraling out technologies from the program into the force when they're ready, huh? Now successful portions fall victim to budget politics.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

-- Christian

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