AUVSI: Navy updates on Fire Scout activities
Fire Scout will become the US Navy's first armed UAS following a requirement fed down to the project office Capt Patrick Smith, program manager PMA- 266 revealed at Unmanned Systems North America.
'It will be the first weaponised UAS for the navy,' Smith stated. Adding that arming the Fire Scout would likely take 18 months from the point at which his office receives the funds to fulfil the requirement.
That schedule should mean that the UAS will be armed when it is integrated with Littoral Combat Ship-1. 'It supports the deployment of LCS-1,' Smith said.
Currently, the navy expects that the weapon to be integrated with Fire Scout will be BAE Systems APKWS. In part Smith said this reflects the fact that many of the safety approvals needed to handle the weapon aboard ship are already in place.
However, in the next month Northrop Grumman will also begin the process of integrating Raytheon's Griffin missile with Fire Scout. However, the navy believes this will be a more risky activity than the APKWS solution despite the Griffin missile being in production and being utilised oerpationally from at least two platforms
Smith also gave details of the aircraft's first operational deployment aboard the USS Halyburton. During the deployment of two aircraft they flew some 435 hours supporting a number of operations.
Fire Scout was subjected to a bad performance report from the Department of Defense in June, but R Adm Bill Shannon the navy's program executive officer for unmanned aviation said that some of the assumptions made in the report were bluntly wrong. Shannon said that the aircraft's effectiveness had been around 70% rather than the 50% stated in the report.
Turning to the loss of a Fire Scout over Libya on 21 June, Shannon confirmed that the aircraft was supporting operations in North Africa and at the time of its loss, the operators had positive data link and positive health. 'It was tasked and directed in to an area where there was an active engagement of aircraft already – and was lost to enemy action,' he stated. 'The fact that it was unmanned meant that we didn't lose a crew,' he added.
More from Uncrewed Vehicles
US Army moves forward on future tactical UAS without AeroVironment
AeroVironment has been dropped from the hunt to provide the US Army with a Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS), leaving Griffon Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada and Textron Systems in the running.
Navantia, SAES and Perseo to jointly develop line of uncrewed underwater vehicles
At FEINDEF in Madrid, Navantia, SAES and Perseo announced an intention to develop a line of uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs).
British Army eyes new small armed UAS capability
The UK MoD has released a request for information on small armed UAS which could be used by the British Army.
General Atomics delivers first new build extended range MQ-9A to US Marine Corps
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has delivered the first new build MQ-9 Extended Range (ER) to the US Marine Corps (USMC).
Highway landing opens door to future MQ-9 Reaper capabilities
The US has landed an MQ-9 Reaper UAV on a highway for the first time as part of Exercise Agile Chariot.