Navy Arming Fire Scout Drone Helos

What’s the latest U.S. drone to be armed? The Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopter. Northrop Grumman has begun helping the Navy arm the little robo-choppers with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System — basically, laser-guided 70-mm Hydra rockets, according to a company announcement.

The newly armed Fire Scouts will give ships — especially smaller ones that can’t house MH-60 Sea Hawks — the ability to hunt down and kill targets from the sky.

“By arming Fire Scout, the Navy will have a system that can locate and prosecute targets of interest,” said George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for tactical unmanned systems in a Nov. 8 company announcement. “This capability shortens the kill chain and lessens the need to put our soldiers in harm’s way.”

Northrop’s announcement also points out that the MQ-9’s small size and ability to hover makes it perfect for ISR and now hunter-killer missions in coastal regions. Remember when a Fire Scout went down in Libya a few months ago? You know this thing is going to be used to hunt Somali pirates and terrorists all over the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian Peninsula. Oh, and don’t forget inland missions, too.

The release goes on to say that Northrop will develop and deliver the equipment needed to control the weapons  under a $17 million contract awarded to the company on Sept 23. Final delivery is set for March 2013.

The Navy and Northrop were thinking about putting the Griffin rocket on the MQ-8 but for some reason they have selected the smaller 70-mm rockets. Maybe it’s a matter of weight. In any case, let’s hope this doesn’t happen with an armed Fire Scout.

  • Yep

    Outstanding! This will be great for Pirate hunting. Hope it is cheap too. Would be a great tool for OP’s in the mountains of the AF-PAK AOR. If they can reach the needed altitudes..

  • Andy M

    laser guided FFARs sound scary as hell.

    • Andy M

      And now I remembered they are WAFARs now.

    • Pat

      Yes and very neat too!

  • PrometheusGoneWild

    I would love to see a bunch of these on the Gator Freighters.
    It might not be so foolish storming the beach with a couple of these loitering a couple hundred yards up.
    Each landing unit could be in direct contact with the pilot. Who would be in contact with an F-35B which would be loitering…..
    Plus these would take all the punch out of Iran’s small boat swarm threat….
    Add the ability to drop acoustic detectors and you have the ability to rapidly set up a sub screen.
    The possibilities are endless…..

    • blight

      The successors to these might be the “From the Sea” the EFVs have been waiting for.

  • JE McKellar

    But can it carry an ASW torpedo?

    • tiger

      Based on its sized, I doubt it. Then I would be impressed. The USN is lacking in the ASW department.

    • PrometheusGoneWild

      It may be to small for an ASW torpedo.
      But finding the subs is the hard part.
      These could allow small ships to place a much better screen up around the fleet.

    • A. Cedrone, Jr.

      The Navy tried that long ago - the system was called DASH ( Drone Anti Sub Helo) but it didn’t work as expected.

  • Kski

    A perfect use of money!

  • Hurrah

    This would be perfect for mitigating Iranian swarming tactics. Lots of small torpedo, suicide, and RPG boats could be a problem, but they can’t much damage.

  • fadlisa


    I believe that there is an error in the 4th paragraph. It reads:

    “Northrop’s announcement also points out that the MQ-9’s small size…”

    Shouldn’t that be MQ-8?

    • huzz69

      I saw that error too. The Fire Scout is an MQ-8. MQ-9 actually refers to the Reaper, a Predator variant.

  • blight

    The other possibility is using depth charges, which might work on forcing a narco sub to surface but would be of limited use against “proper” submarines, because my data doesn’t show any small torpedoes within the payload limits of the Fire Scout.

    Then again, it might just be the wrong platform, and would call for a bigger one. Maybe based on the S-434, which is scaled up Schweitzer-333 (of which fire scout is based on)?

  • Mastro

    Might be useful- but if the joystick jockey is too aggressive he could get it shot down a bit too quickly- then you are out of recon.

    Great for pirates- maybe a small Taliban group- but a place with real AA- like early Libya or Iraq 2003- it might make a nice target.

    • Musson1

      Is shooting down a UAV an act of aggression?

      Seriously, if someone comes snooping along with a UAV is it an act of agression to shoot down the unmanned aircraft?.

  • Lance

    Waste of money you can arm a SH-60B cheaper than that.

    • Adam

      That’s a joke, right? did you even read the part where they said this will fit on ships the 60 wont fit on? Or the whole thing about “not putting people into the line of fire”

  • Mary

    So the Pentagon is the judge, jury and executioner, all carried out inside a building somewhere, as this unmanned aerial vehicle shoots missiles at people. This robotic human at Northrup states the drone will eliminate anything sane and American-like and will turn our country into some kind of Terminator 10,000 event. Please, Pentagon, allow the FBI and the Justice Department to intervene and teach you Constitutional Law. Have a lovely evening.

    • PrometheusGoneWild

      Your argument falls short in the fact that the President and Congress have signed off on this behavior. President Obama has authorized the use of these strikes more than any other president. (To be fair,the technology has matured in his time).
      If your argument was that the President and Congress need to be schooled in international law and make the Pentagon follow it; that would be a better argument.

      • tiger

        No, the argument is valid. The strike in Yemen for example. A US citizen executed without trial or due process by drone. If a guy kills a cop in the US it take 20 plus years of appeals & trials to stick a needle in somebody. Just because your name is on a list does not mean it’s ok to zap you in the drive thru line on Friday. Congress has yet to sign off on the Libya operation at all 7 months later. So what authorization???? A fig leaf resolution to the UN about no fly zones? That was exceeded after week one.

        • PrometheusGoneWild

          You are losing me.
          Are you saying the Pentagon is acting on its own? Without the consent of the President and Congress?
          I do find fault with the argument that a person who commits a crime in the US is equivelent to someone who has joined a militant international organization which has the sole intent on committing acts of mass death.
          As for Libia, who exactly is taking us to task for assisting in the removal of a brutal dictator who backed the blowing up of a Pan-Am aircraft.
          Besides you that is:)

          • tiger

            In the same time period Syria’s Dictator was killing folks right & left. Same in Bahrain. Yet no Nato strikes. Gahdafi had been a non factor for 20 years And actually on decent terms with the US till this Spring. There was no self defense, And no Congressional Approval. War by drone, Tomahawk, tanker support for 7 months is still a undeclared war. Even LBJ Asked Congress.

            As to the other mater. No trial or due process before killing a US Citizen ?
            The Bill of Rights now stops at the 12 mile limit?

          • PrometheusGoneWild

            In Syria and Bahrain there was no active rebellion.
            In Libya we just helped out:)
            Splitting hairs? Sure, but we do not want to fight every two bit dictator in the name of rule of law and electrons.
            Your argument has merit though. When talking constitutional law, I do not just want to brush you off. The argument is important.
            So I went looking for an eloquent constitutional defense of President Obama’s behavior.
            I found it here:…

            You may disagree, but the idea that the actions are unconstitutional are baseless.

    • tiger

      Yep this how the Cylons get started. One day we will all need to leave Earth for Caprica.

    • blight

      So when does an action by a person against the United States fall under a crime requiring a law enforcement action, and an act of war dealt with by the military? You don’t arrest enemy soldiers, you shoot them; and you don’t shoot criminals, you arrest them.

      It’s clear that Congress and the judiciary need to clarify the boundaries. In the old days, you were either a soldier on the battlefield or a spy. Soldiers were treated as POWs. Spies, guerrillas and francs-tiralleurs were hanged.

      • Will

        It’s the 21st century. There’s no clear line between soldiers, terrorists & criminals. Sometimes the same individuals can be all 3. The working definition is that if they can be arrested by law enforcement, then they get prosecuted. If they can’t, they get killed. If there’s a potential PR problem, you get an ally or mercenaries - excuse me, a private military company - to do the dirty work. The president, whoever that might be, didn’t make the world the way it is - he has to protect us from it as best he can.

    • Ed!

      The same Justice Department that did Fast and Furious and gave a bunch of guns to the drug smugglers in Mexico? Yeah I think I will pass on that and go with a UAV strike any day than let our legal system handle them.

  • Oudin

    I think navy arming fire scout makes save alive and save money to operate.

  • Old chief

    Remind me of the DASH helos of the late 50’s early 60’s. But they could carry depth bombs or torpedoes. All the WWII destroyers were modified to have a DASH helo deck. Navy sure moves fast, to stay in one spot.

    • older salt

      DASH flew in the fleet til the early 70s it was used in Vietnam with a camera, and after that as a target at a missle range.
      First armed UAV I Think.

  • RCDC

    It looks like a small rocket ordinance attach to the scout helo . Can it carry a 1000 lb ordinance? Does it have the ability to sink a ship or missile boats when it comes face to face with it?

  • anthony

    We arent saving any money with companies that have built millions of sorts of warfare to use against what ever we are agaisnt. Times like these makes you think drop a few baby A-Boms and drop them on the top of these capitals against us. Theyll know what they are up against.

  • anthony

    Of course you have a crew,below and when not in use the maintenance!!