with the MQ-8B in November, is slated to take the MQ-
8B on its first LCS deployment in 2014.
The Fire Scout has completed dynamic interface testing on the first LCS, USS Freedom, which is deployed to
the Western Pacific but is carrying only an MH-60R
Seahawk helicopter as its aircraft complement.
Dynamic interface testing with the Fire Scout on the
first two Independence-class LCSs, Independence and
Coronado, is scheduled to take place in 2014.
Also in 2014, the Telephonics-built ZPY- 4 surface-search radar will be deployed on the Fire Scout. The
ZPY- 4, a development of the commercial 1700B+ radar,
is being fielded in response to the RDC requirement
from U.S. Fifth Fleet to provide additional area surveillance capability for search, detection, identification
and tracking of maritime surface contacts.
“The intent is to be able to use that radar to cue our
EO/IR sensor and be able to get eyes on target faster
and, also, to determine situationally which targets they
would like to see presented first,” Smith said. “One of
the differences we’re looking at with MQ-8C is actually
to provide a 360-degree coverage, not just the 180
coverage that we have right now integrated into an
“After I finish the requirement set for my Rapid Deployment Requirement, we’ll be looking at migrating
over radar capability to support the Littoral Combat Ship
and we are looking primarily to make sure that we can
support both their surface warfare mission set and provide a supporting role while we are conducting ASW
[anti-submarine warfare] missions,” he said.
Another RDC requirement was
for a precision weapon for the Fire
Scout. Test firings of the BAE
Systems-built Advanced Precision
Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II),
a 2.75-inch precision-guided rocket, were conducted by an MQ-8B in
June at the Naval Air Weapons
Station China Lake, Calif.
“We had preliminary data showing 11 of the 12 successful hits inside
the target radius that was desired,”
Smith said. “We’re moving forward
right now to complete our testing
with that to clean up some items that
we have not accomplished at the
[Patuxent River, Md.] area, including
items such as jettison and some additional investigation of the aircraft and
how the weapons tie together.
“The aircraft is back at Webster
Field [Md.] right now,” he said. “It
is instrumented so we do need to
complete adjustment testing and some additional
checkouts of the airframe with what we call aircraft gas
ingestion testing to ensure that the gas plume coming
out of the rocket motor does not interfere with it.
“We also have done all the engineering required for
ship modifications to support bringing this capability
onboard FFGs [frigates] and then have gone through
any kind of testing or evolution we need to safely
employ those,” Smith said, speaking of safe storage
and handling of the rockets.
The Navy plans to integrate the APKWS on the MQ-
8C, although probably not until the post-2016 time frame.
Northrop Grumman incorporated hard points on the MQ-
8C for the purpose of future external stores capability.
A stores management system built by General
Electric is being installed in the Fire Scout to allow for
future growth for additional weapon sets, Smith said.
The turret-mounted Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance
and Analysis (COBRA) mine countermeasures sensor
also is being developed for the Fire Scout.
“We completed our evolution of [COBRA] testing
down at Webster Field earlier this year,” he said. “We’re
standing by to see the evolution of that sensor with LCS.”
Smith said the Navy chose Point Mugu as a test site
for the MQ-8C because of range availability and capability. The testing — required out to 150 nautical miles
offshore — made the site preferable to Webster Field,
site of testing for the MQ-8B.
The Navy will complete procurement of 30 MQ-8Bs
for testing and operations in 2014. The total includes
six development aircraft.
29 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013
The first MQ-8C Fire Scout vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle is shown
here being delivered to Naval Air Systems Command in July. Built around a Bell
407 helicopter airframe, it has more endurance, range and speed than the MQ-
8B Fire Scout and can carry a greater payload and fuel load. The MQ-8C was
scheduled to make its first flight in October.