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MQ-8C Fire Scout completes check aboard USS Anchorage


According to a press release published by Northrop Grumman on May 25, 2021, MQ-8C Fire Scout, the U.S. Navy’s only ship-based autonomous helicopter program, passes the initial fit check aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD-23) at Naval Base San Diego demonstrating the aircraft suitability for the U.S. Marine Corps’ amphibious warfare mission.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 MQ-8C Fire Scout aboard USS Anchorage (Picture source: Northrop Grumman)


MQ-8C Fire Scout, which has integrated the AN/ZPY-8 radar, is expected to reach Initial Operating Capability in this new configuration this summer and begin.

The Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter system that provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), target-acquisition, laser designation and battle management to tactical users without relying on manned aircraft or space-based assets.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a mature helicopter with more than 1,400 airframes produced and over 4 million flight hours. The MQ-8C Fire Scout is an upgrade to the existing “B” variant, which first deployed in 2009. With its larger airframe and its ability to autonomously take-off and land on any aviation-capable ship, the “C” can fly nearly twice as long and carry three times more payload than its predecessor.

Fire Scout autonomous helicopters like the MQ-8C already demonstrated targeting capabilities at sea, overland, teaming with manned assets, and integrating new technologies.

Teamed with the manned MH-60 helicopter, the MQ-8 Fire Scout extends the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the Navy.

The USS Anchorage (LPD-23) is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock and the second ship of the United States Navy to be the namesake of the U.S. city of Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage's keel was laid down on 24 September 2007, at the Avondale Shipyard near New Orleans, Louisiana, then owned by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. The ship was launched on 12 February 2011. She was christened two months later, on 14 May — the first ship christened by Huntington Ingalls Industries since Northrop Grumman spun off its shipbuilding divisions as a separate company. The ship was formally delivered and accepted by the U.S. Navy on 17 September 2012. Anchorage was commissioned 4 May 2013, in her eponymous city.