US Navy deploys MQ-8C Fire Scout to Indo-Pacific for the first time

US Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout made its second operational deployment and first deployment to the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility aboard Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6).

Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation

Designed in San Diego, California and Fort Worth, Texas by a joint Northrop Grumman/Bell team and manufactured in Ozark, Alabama and Moss Point, Mississippi, the MQ-8C achieved initial operational capability in June 2019 and will begin replacing the MQ-8B variant on the upcoming deployments.

The vessel passed the initial fit check aboard the USS Anchorage at Naval Base San Diego last May.

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MQ-8C Fire Scout’s initial deployment was aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) in the Caribbean Sea in December last year.

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“MQ-8C Fire Scout provided increased maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) capability that contributed greatly to the success of the U.S. Navy’s counter-narcotics operations,” said Lance Eischeid, director, Fire Scout program, Northrop Grumman.

In addition to providing critical decision-making, MQ-8C Fire Scout is supporting capabilities such as demonstrating manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT), enabling sensor information sharing across a distributed force, reducing risk to and burden on manned aircraft, and enhancing weapons capacity.