Naval Air: Cannot Stop The Robot Helicopters


February 22, 2008: The U.S. Navy's new helicopter UAV, the RQ-8A Fire Scout [PHOTO], is being assigned to another class of ships. The RQ-8A was originally developed for use on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and was due to enter service next year. But the LCS is behind schedule and the Fire Scout isn't, so the navy is assigning the Fire Scout to other ships. It's uncertain what other ships will get the Fire Scout, perhaps some that are operating in the Persian Gulf or off the Somali coast. This would give the Fire Scout some real world experience, especially since it is able to fire Hellfire missiles and unguided 70mm unguided rockets.

The RQ-8A can stay in the air for up to eight hours at a time (five hour missions are more common), has a top speed of 230 kilometers an hour, and can operate up to 230 kilometers from its controller (on land, or a ship.) The RQ-8A is being developed for use on the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Three production models have been delivered, and nine more are under construction.

The U.S. Army is buying the slightly more capable RQ-8B, which will be particularly useful supporting combat operations in urban areas. Both versions carry day and night cameras, GPS and targeting gear (laser range finders and designators). The RQ-8 is based on a two seat civilian helicopter (the Schweizer Model 333), and has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.5 tons. With its rotors folded (for storage on ships), the RQ-8 is 23 feet long and 9.4 feet high. Max payload is 600 pounds, meaning it would probably carry hundred pound Hellfire, or 44 pound Viper Strike missiles. Each RQ-8 UAV costs about $8 million (including a share of the ground control equipment and some spares.) The flight control software enables the RQ-8 to land and take off automatically.


Article Archive

Naval Air: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close