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US Navy Deploys MQ-8C Fire Scout to Indo-Pacific

USS Jackson – LCS-6. Photo: US Naval Sea Systems Command

The US Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout has made its second operational deployment, and first deployment to the Indo-Pacific Area of Responsibility, aboard USS Jackson (LCS-6). Thje ship deployed to Changi Naval Base in Singapore in May as part of a rotational deployment by the US 7th Fleet. The Fire Scout is designed to provide commanders greater maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T) capability.

“The MQ-8C Fire Scout is an extremely flexible unmanned aerial system and a pillar in the Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan,” said Capt. Dennis Monagle, U.S. Navy. “While Fire Scout will still be active on remaining Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), the system is being built into the Constellation-class frigate design, most notably the USS Constellation (FFG-62), as well as other ship classes.”

The MQ-8C Fire Scout autonomous, runway-independent helicopter system continues to deploy on LCSs with future deployments planned on Constellation-class guided-missile frigates and operations from shore sites under the Expeditionary Advance Base Operations concept, including potential logistics cargo role. Other potential future roles for the MQ-8C include mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.

“The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s initial deployment was aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) in the Caribbean Sea,” said Lance Eischeid, director, Fire Scout program, Northrop Grumman. “MQ-8C Fire Scout provided increased maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) capability that contributed greatly to the success of the U.S. Navy’s counter-narcotics operations.”

In addition to providing critical decision-making, MQ-8C Fire Scout is supporting advanced capabilities including demonstrating Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT), enabling sensor information sharing across a distributed force, further increasing survivability, reducing risk to and burden on manned aircraft, and enhancing weapons capacity. Fire Scout is furthering the successful integration of unmanned platforms and manned assets at sea.

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