MQ-8B Fire Scout
Last August, I highlighted a helo drone gone awol in DC restricted airspace, a scenario that should strike fear in the most devoted UAV proponents. Nonetheless, UAV’s are here to stay. They’re much less expensive then manned systems with long loiter times. This one has seven hours.
I thought a helo drone was intended only for recon when it was introduced years ago with a payload of 200 pounds. That’s not much. The MQ-8B Fire Scout can bring hellfire and brimstone to a neighborhood near you. Or at least to a bad guys hideout. It’s pretty small with VTOL capability which is mighty handy in tight spots. Those pods carry the fire-and-forget AGM-114 Hellfire missiles,, the laser/GPS-guided GBU-44/B Viper Strike missile, and the rather cheerfully named Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. When the Navy decided it wasn’t for them, Army jumped all over it since attack helicopters are very much an Army thing. Once the Army committed, the Navy reconsidered and now both service braches will fly it.
Flights of the Army variant take place this month. Another addition to the growing arsenal of unmanned vehicles, a trend that shows no sign of abating. Makes you wonder about the future role of manned vehicles whether it fixed or rotary wing.
Will it evolve to commercial activites? What happens when your engine sucks in a flight of sea birds as happened to Chesley Sullenberger? Who or what will tell the aircraft that the safest/ best place to land is the Hudson River?