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  • Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Autonomous Helicopter (UAH)


    The Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout UAH series intends to bring a whole level of overwater resupply capabilities to the USN.

     Updated: 6/23/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com


    The Northrop Grumman MQ-8 is classified as a "Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle" and - unlike other UAVs in operation today - is more akin in form and function to a traditional helicopter than a fixed-wing aircraft. As a rotary-wing design, the MQ-8 can take off and land vertically from virtually any terrain type and can loiter in air for extended periods of time - features not available to other UAV classes. The system is designed to provide for real-time reconnaissance, surveillance of enemy movement, battle damage assessment, direct targeting of enemy personnel/vehicles and general intelligence gathering. Its aerial nature provides ground commanders (from the company level to small unit) the necessary "eyes in the sky" that can make a true difference in battle - supplying Over The Horizon (OTH) vantage points not unlike the manned reconnaissance balloons of World War 1.

    The RQ-8/MQ-8 was born out of a US Navy need to replace its aged and outgoing RQ-2 Pioneer fixed-wing UAV systems. As the use of UAVs began to grow throughout the US military - and specifically within USN doctrine - so did the requirements for a new multi-faceted UAV system. As such, the Navy specified a modern UAV design to have a range out to 125 miles with a mission endurance time of at least 3 hours and be able to carry a payload of up to 200lbs. Additionally, as a USN aircraft, the UAV should also possess the ability to be launched and retrieved at sea from the decks of existing USN surface vessels.


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    Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Sea Scout Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 2009
    Type: Unmanned Autonomous Helicopter (UAH)
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Northrop Grumman - USA
    Production Total: 38



    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)


    Operating Crew: 0
    Length: 23.95 feet (7.3 meters)
    Width: 27.56 feet (8.40 meters)
    Height: 9.51 feet (2.90 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 2,072 lb (940 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 3,153 lb (1,430 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance


    Engine(s): 1 x Rolls-Royce 250-C20 engine developing 420 horsepower driving a four-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.

    Maximum Speed: 132 mph (213 kph; 115 knots)
    Maximum Range: 932 miles (1,500 km)
    Service Ceiling: 20,013 feet (6,100 meters; 3.79 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    OPTIONAL (MQ-8B):
    Hellfire anti-tank missiles
    Viper Strike laser-guided drop bombs
    Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System
    Laser-Guided Folding Fin Rocket (FFR)

    Up to 600 lb of external payload.

    Global Operators / Customers


    United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)


    RQ-8A - Initial Model based on the Schweizer 330 design.

    RQ-8B - Second Model based on the Schweizer 333 design.

    MQ-8B "Fire Scout" - Official US military designation of the RQ-8B Fire Scout.

    MQ-8B "Sea Scout" - U.S. Navy Variant for shipboard use based on the MQ-8B Fire Scout; 8-hour mission endurance window with 170 lb payload limit.

    MQ-8C - Improved Fire Scout; 14-hour mission endurance window; up to 700 lb payload capacity; MQ-8B model avionics coupled to Bell 407 helicopter airframe; increase performance figures over the MQ-8B.