Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

US military adds armed robotic helicopters to fleet
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 9, 2011

The US military plans to add a lethal new drone to its fleet -- a robotic helicopter for the US Navy equipped with laser-guided rockets, defense giant Northrop Grumman said Wednesday.

The armed Fire Scouts will mark a new era in naval warfare, offering an alternative to pilots flying attack helicopters or fighter jets off warships and reflecting a broader shift to robotic technology across the US military in recent years.

An unarmed version of the MQ-8B Fire Scout is already flying surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the US Navy, using cameras and sensors inside a cone on the aircraft's nose.

Northrop Grumman won a contract in September worth $17 million to outfit the choppers with 70 mm rockets, with racks capable of carrying eight or 14 of the weapons on an aircraft, the company said.

"The operational system will be delivered by 2013," company spokesman Warren Comer told AFP.

The Fire Scout joins two other armed drones in the US arsenal, the Predator and the Reaper, which are unmanned planes that have become the weapon of choice in covert CIA strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda militants and their associates in Pakistan and elsewhere.

"By arming the Fire Scout, the Navy will have a system that can locate and prosecute targets of interest. This capability shortens the kill chain and lessens the need to put our soldiers in harm's way," George Vardoulakis, Northrop's vice president for tactical unmanned systems, said in a statement.

The Fire Scout, which had its first test flight in 2000 and first landed on a naval ship at sea in 2006, is due to be deployed on new littoral combat ships under construction.

The helicopter, which is seven meters (23 feet) long and three meters (about 10 feet) high, can reach an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), fly at a speed of more than 115 knots (200 kilometers) per hour and stay in the air for more than eight hours, employing sensors and radar to track targets.

The US Navy has a fleet of about 15 Fire Scouts and plans to build 168 of the helicopters, according to the Pentagon.

The Fire Scout has been deployed to Afghanistan to help target insurgents and one of the unmanned helicopters went down in the NATO-led air campaign over Libya in June.

Last year, US commanders in Washington considered shooting down an unarmed Fire Scout when it strayed off course and flew toward the US capital after losing ground communications.


Related Links
UAV News - Suppliers and Technology

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

US Navy Extends Afghan Tour of Duty for Northrop Grumman-Built Fire Scout
San Diego CA (SPX) Nov 09, 2011
Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter has improved ground commanders' ability to see potential threats and increase fighting effectiveness in Afghanistan - prompting the U.S. Navy to extend the system's service through most of next year. A team of U.S. Navy sailors and Northrop Grumman employees began their mission in May to gather 300 hours per month of full-motion video surve ... read more

Lunar Probe to search for water on Moon

Subtly Shaded Map of Moon Reveals Titanium Treasure Troves

NASA's Moon Twins Going Their Own Way

Titanium treasure found on Moon

Russian probe fails to take route for Mars

Russian probe fails to take route for Mars

Battered Tharsis Tholus volcano on Mars

Moscow's Mars pioneers hail success, gripe at space rations

NASA's Future Up In Space

NASA plans 2014 test-flight of deep-space capsule

Voyager 2 to Switch to Backup Thruster Set

Boeing to Build Commercial Spacecraft at Kennedy, Create 550 Jobs

What does the Tiangong 1 space station mean for China

China masters space command, control

China's great big leap skyward

China space prowess benefits world

Campaign Begins For Third Automated Transfer Vehicle Mission To ISS

New Supply Ship Arrives, Departure Preps and Science Under Way

Russian space freighter docks with orbital station

Progress Successfully Docks With ISS

Arianespace Ends 2011 With Three Launcher Campaigns

Six Astrium satellites on the same flight

Arianespace's no. 2 Soyuz begins taking shape for launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana

Vega getting ready for exploitation

Three New Planets and a Mystery Object Discovered Outside Our Solar System

Dwarf planet sized up accurately as it blocks light of faint star

Herschel Finds Oceans of Water in Disk of Nearby Star

UH Astronomer Finds Planet in the Process of Forming

Adobe pulls plug on Flash for mobile

Electronics set to power US holiday sales: report

New elements join the periodic table

Tying atomic threads in knots may produce material benefits

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement