Northrop Grumman completes first flight of land-based MQ-8B Fire Scout
A Northrop Grumman Corporation MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Aircraft System (VUAS), designated P7, has successfully completed first flight operations at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz. Unlike current Navy configured Fire Scouts, P7 was built in an operational land-based configuration. It is the first MQ-8B to fly without flight test instrumentation normally installed for developmental flights, a clear indication of MQ-8B’s system maturity. P7 continues Northrop Grumman’s commitment to customers around the globe by building upon the rigorous developmental testing being supported by P6, the first company owned Fire Scout.
The completion of first flight paves the way for continued operations to validate the functionality of all system elements leading to the execution of operationally relevant mission scenarios that demonstrate Fire Scout’s unprecedented capability in support of the warfighter.
“Being a Vertical Unmanned Aerial System, Fire Scout brings many tactical advantages to the fight” said Mike Howell, Business Development Manager for Army systems at Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “It goes where the warfighter goes, is not tied to airfields or recovery sites, and provides enhanced, direct support for the ground commander”.
After successfully completing fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney (FFG-8) frigate in May, Fire Scout is well poised to demonstrate capabilities in reconnaissance surveillance and target acquisition/ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (RSTA/ISR), communications relay, logistics resupply, and other key missions uniquely suited to vertical UAS. “Fire Scout’s ability to perch and stare allows it to readily acquire and track targets in the urban and complex terrains America’s warfighters are engaged,” Howell said. “Its capacity at the tactical level allows it to carry larger more capable payloads, including communications relay, than other tactical UAS, giving the commander more options and greater flexibility when planning and executing operations.”
The P7’s capability demonstrations will continue throughout the summer, with missions in support of land-based operations as a priority. In conjunction with continued flight operations of P6, P7 underscores Fire Scout’s joint role as a program of record within both the Navy and the Army.
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