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US Navy declared initial operational capability for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter


The US Navy (USN) declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter on 28 June.


US Navy declared initial operational capability for the Northrop Grumman MQ 8C Fire Scout

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout (Picture source: US Navy)


The Fire Scout is built by Northrop Grumman using the Bell 407 airframe and is built at Bell's Mirabel, Quebec, plant with final assembly and kitting conducted in the U.S. The MQ-8C is a larger and longer-endurance variant of the MQ-8B vehicle that can operate up to 12 hours on station depending on payload.

The Navy intends to deploy the MQ-8C with Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) for reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support. Fire Scout will complement the Sikorsky MH-60 manned helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations.

"This milestone is a culmination of several years of hard work and dedication from our joint government and industry team. We are excited to get this enhanced capability out to the fleet,” Capt. Eric Soderberg, Fire Scout program manager, said.

The MQ-8C is scheduled to deploy with the LCSs in fiscal year 2021 while the older MQ-8B conducts operations aboard LCSs in the 5th and 7th Fleets, the Navy said.