MQ-8C Northrop Fire Scout 2017

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Unread post06 Dec 2017, 07:51

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ng-443858/

Final MQ-8C testing slated for spring

05 December, 2017
BY: Leigh Giangreco

Washington DC
The US Navy expects to enter initial operational test and evaluation for Northrop Grumman unmanned MQ-8C helicopter by this spring (2018), with sea-based testing on the littoral combat ship (LCS) to follow in the summer, says a US Navy program manager. Fire Scout testing appears to be on track with government estimates. The navy had planned to make a milestone C decision for the program by the second quarter of fiscal year 2017, which would usher in the IOT&E, according to a 2016 report from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.

Northrop's MQ-8C Fire Scout, derived from the four-bladed, single-engine Bell 407, will provide surveillance for the navy’s littoral combat ship. The unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft will provide greater payload, range and endurance than its predecessor, the smaller MQ-8B based on the Sikorsky S-333, though the two aircraft share a majority of their software.

The navy has already developed a capability for the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) on the legacy MQ-8B, but development for the next-generation MQ-8C was put on hold due to magazine restrictions and mission needs for the fleet, Navy program manager Capt Jeff Dodge says. “Right now we have a development plan for APKWS for the MQ-8C and to finish operationalizing it for the MQ-8B,” he says. “That effort is scheduled to start a couple years from now, the priority is getting the sensors first, making sure the connectivity is there and then later getting into weapons on the Fire Scout.”

Meanwhile, the navy is issuing an interim fix for its MQ-8B radar, until the MQ-8C is fielded. The 2016 Pentagon report recommended the navy should consider whether an MQ-8B equipped with a 180-degree radar is capable of providing area surveillance before fielding the aircraft in the fleet. The report also recommended additional tests to investigate the UAV’s ability to identify intended targets during operationally realistic scenarios. While the service evaluate alternative antenna placements, the MQ-8B’s small size limited what the navy was able to do with its radars, Dodge says. Instead, the navy developed tactics to deal with the current radar’s limitations. “The aircraft can fly a bow tie of flight which allows that radar to be pointed in the direction you want to keep it pointed while the aircraft loiters in one place,” he says. “We’ve also fielded some improvements to the electro-optical infrared sensor which actually does the target identification that allows better recognition of what the target is and allows the operator to slew the center of the field of view to the system a little bit better.”
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Last edited by neptune on 06 Dec 2017, 08:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post06 Dec 2017, 08:04

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_ ... Fire_Scout

...On 23 April 2012, Northrop received a $262.3 million contract from the Navy to build the newly designated MQ-8C Fire Scout; the work included two developmental aircraft and six low-rate production aircraft initially. The Navy wants 28 MQ-8Cs for naval special operations forces. In March 2013, the Navy incorporated the Rolls-Royce 250-C47E engine into the MQ-8C for a 5 percent increase in "hot and high" power, 2 percent reduced fuel consumption, 8 percent increase in rated takeoff power, and better reliability. The Bell 407-based MQ-8C has an endurance of 12 hours, a range of 150 nmi, and a payload capacity of about 701 lb; it has twice the endurance and three times the payload as the MQ-8B.

The MQ-8C will be ready to perform surface warfare missions in 2018 and mine countermeasure missions in 2020. The aircraft's first deployment is expected for 2016 to give Littoral Combat Ships a 50 nmi -radius ISR capability. The Fire Scout program office is considering whether to equip the airframe itself to perform more missions or focus on manned-unmanned teaming with larger MH-60S/R Seahawk helicopters.

On 26 May 2016, NAVAIR signed a contract for the Osprey 30 lightweight AESA radar for the MQ-8C, the first system of its type to offer full spherical coverage with no moving parts; the 360-degree, 110 lb airborne radar uses fixed panels distributed around the body of aircraft, mounting antennas weighing just over 24 lb each.

The first operational MQ-8C was delivered to the US Navy in December 2014. Its final developmental flight was completed on 29 April 2015, after 450 hours completed in 327 flights. In August 2015, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the MQ-8C's endurance with an 11-hour flight. On 20 November 2015, the MQ-8C completed a 3-week operational assessment period to assess system performance, endurance, and reliability of the unmanned helicopter over 83.4 hours in 11 flights. To date, the aircraft logged 730 flight hours over 427 flights. Ship-based testing is expected to begin in 2017.

General characteristics
Crew: 0
Payload: 2,950 lb
Length: 34.7 ft
Rotor diameter: 36.6 ft
Height: 10.9 ft
Max. takeoff weight: 6,000 lb
Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce 250-C47B, 813 shp

Performance
Maximum speed: 140 knots
Endurance: 15 hours maximum
Service ceiling: 20,000 ft
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Unread post12 Dec 2017, 22:44

https://news.usni.org/2017/12/12/fire-s ... more-29944

Fire Scout to Serve as Forward Spotter for Navy Surface Ships With Addition of Radar, Datalink


By: Sam LaGrone
December 12, 2017 1:44 PM

The Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles will receive a new radar and datalink to set the UAV up as a forward spotter for the Navy’s surface fleet. The Northrop Grumman-built UAV is set to be upgraded with a Leonardo Osprey 30 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and the Link 16 datalink, the combination of which will allow the UAV to distribute air-to-air and surface targeting information to ships in a surface action group, company officials told USNI News last week. “You’ve seen a good body of literature coming out of the Navy describing distributed maritime operations and how they view that: a lot of different ships spread out over very broad ocean areas. And having the Fire Scout with Link 16 as part of that formation of ships is a key enabler to that capability and requires no additional modification to any of the other platforms,” Jack Thomas, director of Tactical Autonomous Systems Mission Engineering at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, told USNI News last week. “Putting it aboard Fire Scout is really going to shorten the cycle from cue throughout the mission if you were engaging anti-surface warfare [targets]. We certainly see Fire Scout as the long-range, high-endurance sensor that does the detecting and identification that will shorten that cycle from initial detection through to managing that track where we see the incorporation of Link 16 into that program.” As part of the Navy’s notional distributed maritime operations concept, Fire Scout being resident on a future frigate or Littoral Combat Ship could route targeting information from its AESA radars at ranges much further than the sensors on a surface ship but still within the range of weapons that could reach a surface target. “Right now the focus is on the sensors which are the advanced radar on the aircraft and continuing that integration effort,” Melissa Packwood, Fire Scout program director at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, told USNI News. “The Navy’s plan for testing for the MQ-8C in the springtime of next year.” The Fire Scout will also be integrated with the Johns Hopkins-developed Minotaur Track Management and Mission Management system that combines information from several different sets of sensors to create a unified target picture for a battle group. The platform is currently operating on the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships and will be a key component of the upcoming next-generation frigate program (FFG(X)), according to the Navy in its submissions to industry on the requirements of the new ship. “In the future, there was a good piece of news that the Navy has signaled that, as part of the FFG(X) program, the future frigate will incorporate Fire Scout as part of its baseline requirement,” Packwood said. “That’s where we see it going. It was really encouraging for us to see that in its documentation.” The service has so far bought 30 MQ-8Cs for the LCS program, Packwood said.
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