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AUVSI: Navy updates on Fire Scout activities

18th August 2011 - 16:48 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


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.

The Shephard News Team


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