Naval Air: February 26, 2003


The U.S. Navy has successfully completed nearly a year of flight tests of it's new RQ-8A Fire Scout UAV. This RQ-8A is actually a small civilian helicopter (the Schweitzer 330) modified and militarized to operate from the helicopter flight decks of small ships and be controlled by an operator on the ship. The Navy wants to buy about 200 of them. The RQ-8A has a range of some 200 kilometers and can stay in the air for over six hours. Weighing 2500 pounds, the RQ-8A has a max speed of 225 kilometers an hour. It carries an infrared imager and a laser rangefinder/designator. There were attempts to cancel the RQ-8A project, but what kept it alive, aside from the successful flight tests, was the need for a lightweight helicopter UAV for the planned lightweight combat ship.


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