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Quad A 2011: Fire Scout prepares for land operations

20th April 2011 - 21:18 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The US Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout VTOL UAS will take part in its first land-based deployment as part of CENTCOM operations later in the month, according to NAVAIR.

Three air frames were flown directly from Naval Air Station Patuxent Rive, Maryland, to the CENTCOM area of operations earlier this month where it will provide Full Motion Video capabilities for NATO forces.

Defence sources told Shephard that funding ha been secured for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan as part of the 'ISR Task Force' with the air vehicle 'rapidly modified, tested and verified' for land-based operations. NAVAIR would not comment on specific locations but Shephard was informed that operations will focus on North Afghanistan.

The total package, which comprises some 90,000 pounds of equipment and includes three air vehicles, two ground control stations, was shipped out to theatre on board US Air Force C-5 and C-17 aircraft over the past week.

Capt Tim Dunigan, PMA-266 program manager, said: 'It’s very unique for an aircraft to deploy directly from Pax River. We were able to meet tight schedule timelines so we could support the warfighter as soon as possible. The system has proven its capability on its two ship-based deployments, and I am confident it will perform well in CENTCOM.'

According to NAVAIR, the systems will provide 'hundreds of hours of Full Motion Video in theatre supporting US Army and coalition forces during its year-long deployment'. It will also be operated by contractor personnel from Northrop Grumman.

Elsewhere, two Fire Scout systems are conducting counter-piracy operations as part of a NATO battlegroup in the Gulf of Aden. Dunigan said the airframes, operating on board the USS Halyburton until August, had flown a total of more than 200 hours to date.

The Shephard News Team


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