General Atomics MQ-1 Predator
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an American remotely piloted aircraft built by General Atomics, used by the United States Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency. Conceived in the early 1990s for aerial reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors, it was upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft entered service in 1995, saw combat in the war in Afghanistan, the NATO intervention in Bosnia, the Iraq War, the 2011 Libyan civil war, the 2014 intervention in Syria, Somalia; the USAF describes the Predator as a "Tier II" MALE UAS. The UAS consists of four aircraft or "air vehicles" with sensors, a ground control station, a primary satellite link communication suite. Powered by a Rotax engine and driven by a propeller, the air vehicle can fly up to 400 nmi to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours return to its base; the RQ-1 Predator was the primary remotely piloted aircraft used for offensive operations by the USAF and the CIA in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas from 2001 until the introduction of the MQ-9 Reaper.
Because offensive uses of the Predator are classified by the U. S. U. S. military officials have reported an appreciation for the intelligence and reconnaissance-gathering abilities of RPAs but declined to publicly discuss their offensive use. The United States Air Force retired the Predator in 2018. Civilian applications for drones have included border enforcement and scientific studies, to monitor wind direction and other characteristics of large forest fires; the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon began experimenting with unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in the early 1980s. The CIA preferred small, unobtrusive drones, in contrast to the United States Air Force. In the early 1990s, the CIA became interested in the "Amber", a drone developed by Leading Systems, Inc; the company's owner, Abraham Karem, was the former chief designer for the Israeli Air Force, had immigrated to the U. S. in the late 1970s. Karem's company had since gone bankrupt and been bought up by a U. S. defense contractor, from whom the CIA secretly bought five drones.
Karem agreed to produce a quiet engine for the vehicle, which had until sounded like "a lawnmower in the sky". The new development became known as the "Predator". General Atomics Aeronautical Systems was awarded a contract to develop the Predator in January 1994, the initial Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration phase lasted from January 1994 to June 1996. First flight took place on 3 July 1994 at the El Mirage airfield in the Mojave Desert; the aircraft itself was a derivative of the GA Gnat 750. During the ACTD phase, three systems were purchased from GA, comprising twelve aircraft and three ground control stations. From April through May 1995, the Predator ACTD aircraft were flown as a part of the Roving Sands 1995 exercises in the U. S; the exercise operations were successful, this led to the decision to deploy the system to the Balkans in the summer of 1995. During the ACTD, Predators were operated by a combined Army/Navy team managed by the Navy's Joint Program Office for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and first deployed to Gjader, for operations in the Former Yugoslavia in spring 1995.
By the start of the United States Afghan campaign in 2001, the USAF had acquired 60 Predators, said it had lost 20 of them in action. Few if any of the losses were from enemy action, the worst problem being foul weather icy conditions; some critics within the Pentagon saw the high loss rate as a sign of poor operational procedures. In response to the losses caused by cold weather conditions, a few of the USAF Predators were fitted with de-icing systems, along with an uprated turbocharged engine and improved avionics; this improved "Block 1" version was referred to as the "RQ-1B", or the "MQ-1B" if it carried munitions. The Predator system was designated the RQ-1 Predator; the "R" is the United States Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance and the "Q" refers to an unmanned aircraft system. The "1" describes it as being the first of a series of aircraft systems built for unmanned reconnaissance. Pre-production systems were designated as RQ-1A, while the RQ-1B denotes the baseline production configuration.
These are designations of the system as a unit. The actual aircraft themselves were designated RQ-1K for pre-production models, RQ-1L for production models. In 2002, the USAF changed the designation to MQ-1 to reflect its growing use as an armed aircraft. During campaign in the former Yugoslavia, a Predator's pilot would sit with several payload specialists in a van near the runway of the drone's operating base. Direct radio signals controlled the drone's takeoff and initial ascent. Communications shifted to military satellite networks linked to the pilot's van. Pilots experienced a delay of several seconds between moving the drone's response, but by 2000, improvements in communications systems made it possible, at least in theory, to fly the drone remotely from great distances. It was no longer necessary to use close-up radio signals during the Predator's ascent; the entire flight could be controlled by satellite from any command and control center with the
Fort Hood is a U. S. military post located in Texas. The post is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood, best known for commanding the Texas Brigade during the American Civil War, it is located halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles from each, within the U. S. state of Texas. Fort Hood is an installation of the United States Army, its origin was the need for wide-open space to train with World War II tank destroyers. The War Department announced the location in January 1942, the initial completion was set for that August; as constructed, Fort Hood had an area of 158,706 acres, with billeting for 6,007 officers and 82,610 enlisted personnel. The main cantonment of Fort Hood had a total population of 53,416 as of the 2010 U. S. Census. Fort Hood is the most populous U. S. military installation in the world. The main business area is in Bell County, with the training countryside area of the post in Coryell County. In April 2014, the Fort Hood website lists 45,414 assigned soldiers and 8,900 civilian employees with Fort Hood covering 214,000 acres, making it one of the largest military bases in the world by area.
During World War II, tank destroyers were developed to counter German mobile armored units. These were mobile anti-tank guns on specially developed tanks. Wide-open space was needed for the tank destroyer testing and training, which Texas had in abundance. Andrew Davis Bruce was assigned to organize a new Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center, he chose Killeen, Texas for the new camp; the War Department announced the selection on 15 January 1942. An initial acquisition of 180,000 acres was made, it was estimated that the camp would cost $22.8 million for the land and development of utilities. The date of completion was set for 15 August 1942. About 300 families had to move from their homes to make room for the camp area and the communities of Clear Creek and Antelope were demolished to facilitate construction of the base; the old Sugar Loaf community called the "Cradle of Killeen," provided the city with many of its first citizens in 1882. All that remains of the community is the mountain from which it took its name, located in the Fort Hood area.
To lessen the burden of moving, the Army agreed to allow land to be used for grazing for a nominal grazing fee. This grazing arrangement still continues today. In mid-August the camp was occupied and the official opening took place on 18 September 1942. Camp Hood was named for the Confederate General John Bell Hood, who gained recognition during the Civil War as the commander of Hood's Texas Brigade; the original facilities provided training sites for nearly 38,000 troops. In January 1943, an additional 16,000 acres in Bell County and 34,943 acres in Coryell County near Gatesville, Texas were purchased; the site near Gatesville was known as the sub-camp and as North Camp Hood. During the war years, North Camp Hood housed nearly 40,000 troops and 4,000 prisoners of war, was the site for the southern branch of the United States Disciplinary Barracks. At the end of 1942, there were about 45,000 troops living and training at Camp Hood and in late June 1943 it peaked at 95,000 troops, maintained until early 1944.
In 1944, the number of tank destroyer battalions in training at Camp Hood declined rapidly. Field artillery battalions and the Infantry Replacement Training Center replaced them in March 1944. By September, the Infantry Center was the largest activity on post with 31,545 troops; the total camp population on the last day of 1944 was 50,228. During the last year of World War II Camp Hood's mission shifted and its population drastically decreased; as the war came to an end, troop training slowed and the priorities were equipment reclamation and demobilization. A separation center was established in September 1945, as the year ended, post strength had fallen to 1,807 prisoners and about 11,000 troops; the Infantry Replacement Center was shut down on January 7, 1946, the orders being signed by the Adjutant General, Major John O’Keefe and the Assistant Adjutant General, 1st. Lt. Donald Prell. In mid-1954, III Corps moved from California to Fort Hood; the Corps supervised the training of combat units at Fort Hood and other Fourth Army stations from 1954 to 1959 when III Corps was inactivated.
The most famous trainee to come through Fort Hood was Elvis Presley, arriving on 28 March 1958. Other than receiving record amounts of mail, he was treated like all other trainees. On 19 September, Presley shipped out for Germany. During this period, the 4th Armored Division was reactivated and deployed to Germany as part of the "Gyroscope" concept of unit movement. In 1958, the 4th Infantry Division was selected to be the sole infantry component in the Strategic Army Corps and assigned the mission to suppress aggression wherever American interests were threatened. In September 1961, Fort Hood again became the home for the III Corps, in February 1962, III Corps was assigned as part of the U. S. Army Strategic Army Corps. On 15 June 1963 Killeen Base was turned over to the Army. In October 1969, Killeen Base was designated as West Fort Hood and the airfield's name was designated as Robert Gray Army Airfield; the base was named after a Killeen native, a pilot of a B-25 bomber on the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942.
He was killed in World War II flying combat missions. With the redesignation came a change in mission at West Fort Hood. Nuclear weapons were removed. During the late 1960s Fort Hood trained and deployed a number of units and individuals for duty in Vietnam; as the United States ended its role i
CBP Air and Marine Operations
Air and Marine Operations is a federal law enforcement agency within U. S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of Homeland Security. AMO is maritime law enforcement organization, its mission is to protect the American people and nation’s critical infrastructure through the coordinated use of air and marine assets to detect and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. Air and Marine Operations Agents and Officers are endowed with the authority to enforce Title 8 and Title 19 of the United States Code in addition to the general law enforcement powers bestowed upon federal law enforcement agents; this specialized law enforcement capability allows AMO to make significant contributions to the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as to those of other federal, state and tribal agencies. AMO is uniquely positioned to provide direct air and maritime support to multiple agencies and to ensure the success of border protection and law enforcement operations between ports of entry, within the maritime domain and within the nation’s interior.
To accomplish its mission, AMO employs over 1,200 Federal Agents and Officers at 70 locations, operating more than 260 aircraft of 26 different types, 300 maritime vessels. It is one of the major operational components within U. S. Customs and Border Protection, along with the Office of Field Operations and United States Border Patrol. 1789 - The U. S. Customs Service is established to aid in the protection of the revenue of the United States and to prevent the smuggling of contraband. A fleet of vessels begin to patrol the coastal waters of the United States. Congress authorized the Collector of Customs to hire boatsmen; these vessels and boatsmen were the forerunners of today’s Midnight Express Interceptor vessels and Marine Interdiction Agents. 1808 - Boatsmen Asa March and Elis Drake became the first Customs officers to die in the line of duty. They gave their lives during a marine interdiction and subsequent gunfight on Lake Champlain in New York. 1922 - U. S. Customs Service Patrol began to use seized aircraft to enable aerial surveillance and enforcement.
1932 - A record-high 35 aircraft were seized for smuggling. This led to the establishment of an unofficial Customs Patrol Air Group; the new aerial surveillance effort focused on the southern U. S. border. 1969 - The U. S. Customs Service established its aviation program, which became operational in 1971. 1973 - The U. S. Customs Service's marine program was established in its modern form within the USCS Office of Investigations. 1999 - The USCS Air and Marine Interdiction Division was formed by merging the aviation and marine programs. March 1st, 2003 - Pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the U. S. Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service were abolished, their components were transferred to newly formed agencies within the Department of Homeland Security; the USCS Air and Marine Interdiction Division was transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, becoming the Office of Air and Marine Operations. The U. S. Border Patrol with its aviation and marine assets was transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to U.
S. Customs and Border Protection, becoming the Office of Border Patrol. October 23rd, 2004 - ICE Air and Marine Operations was transferred to U. S. Customs and Border Protection due to political and budgetary disputes between ICE and CBP. October 1st, 2005 - U. S. Customs and Border Protection integrated its Air and Marine Operations and Border Patrol aviation assets and personnel to more accomplish its aviation missions, forming the Office of CBP Air. January 17th, 2006 - U. S. Customs and Border Protection consolidated all aviation and marine assets under the newly titled Office of Air and Marine, which has the responsibility of providing training, creating standard operating procedures, as well as procuring and maintaining equipment for the entirety of CBP's aviation and marine programs; the purpose of these consolidations was to align air and marine law enforcement personnel and assets into one agency, enabling them to better accomplish the new homeland security mission. October 1st, 2015 - U.
S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine changed its name to Air and Marine Operations. Among AMO's many missions are anti-terrorism, countering smuggling, stopping illegal immigration; the agency uses its aviation and marine assets to detect and apprehend conveyances carrying terrorists, contraband, or undocumented aliens intending to enter the United States illegally. AMO Also leverages its unique detection and interdiction capabilities to support individual components of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. Providing support to agencies and multi-jurisdictional task forces such as ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Secret Service and Border Protection, the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Special Security Events, Joint Interagency Task Force South accounts for the bulk of AMO operations. To accomplish its missions, AMO uses a multitude of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unarmed versions of military UAVs, as well as high speed blue water interceptors and utility vessels for strategic operations in high-risk areas.
All CBP aviation missions are conducted by Air Interdiction Agents, while CBP maritime operations in the Great Lakes, territorial waters, international waters are the responsibility of Marine Interdiction Agents. Patrol Agents from the Office of
Belgian Air Component
The Belgian Air Component is the air arm of the Belgian Armed Forces, until January 2002 it was known as the Belgian Air Force. The Belgian military aviation is one of the world's oldest air services; the commander is Major General aviator Frederik Vansina, appointed on 23 July 2009. The Belgian military aviation was founded in 1909 as a branch of the Belgian Army, carrying the name Compagnie des Ouvriers et Aérostiers. King Albert's interest in the military use of aircraft was the main impetus for its formation. Coincidentally, in the civil aviation sector, Baron Pierre de Caters earned the first civil pilot's brevet that same year. Caters would promptly establish an aviation school. At the same time, the War Ministry followed the French military's example and had pilots earn a civil pilot's brevet before their military one. In 1910, three Belgian lieutenants earned their pilot's brevets at the school, paying their own fees. Two of the artillery lieutenants were Baudouin Montens d'Oosterwyck, who earned Brevet No. 19 on 30 September, Alfred Sarteel, granted No. 23 on 10 November.
The third lieutenant, Georges Nelis, was the new force's first aviation candidate, gaining Brevet No. 28 on 21 December. An aircraft was purchased for him. In spring of 1911, the new air force established its military aviation school with five pilots, two mechanics, a woodworker, it received its first aircraft via Baron Caters, who gave the aircraft to King Albert, who in turn presented it to the school. On 12 September 1912, pilot Lieutenant Nelis and observer Sous Lieutenant Stellingwerff were the first Europeans to fire a machine gun from an aircraft, they were disciplined for their efforts. Nelis accompanied Capitaine Commandant Émile Mathieu to England during November 1913 to demonstrate aerial use of the Lewis machine gun at Hendon and Aldershot. Belgium entered World War I with aircraft tasked for reconnaissance missions. By the time of Belgium's entry into the First World War on 4 August 1914, the military aviation branch, now called the Aviation Militaire Belge, consisted of four squadrons, each consisting of four 80-horsepower Henri Farman aircraft, although Escadrilles III and IV were still forming.
A truck was assigned to each squadron. Each squadron had a commander, five pilots, six observers, with all officers seconded from parent units; as a result, most of the new aviators were from the Engineers and Artillery components of the Belgian armed forces. As the war began, a fifth squadron was created, staffed with civilian pilots called to the colors and equipped with Bleriots. Sous Lieutenant Henri Crombez flew one of the first war patrols, in a Deperdussin racer on 4 August 1914 above Liège. Adjutant Behaeghe was the first to engage an enemy, a few days later. On 26 September, the Belgian air crew of Sous Lieutenant de Petrowski and Sergeant Benselin mortally wounded a German pilot with a rifle bullet and forced his Taube to land at Sint-Agatha-Berchem. On 3 January 1915, two machine guns supplied by British were fitted to two Belgian aircraft, making a dual effort against the foe possible. In February, thirteen of the Belgian airmen flew 28 offensive patrols. On 26 March, Sous Lieutenant Boschmans sent a German two-seater into a steep dive when he seemed to hit the pilot.
This was the Belgian aviators' first victory claim. In April, Lieutenant Fernand Jacquet mounted a machine gun on his pusher aircraft and sought out the enemy. On the 17th, he and his observer scored Belgium's first confirmed aerial victory, sending an Albatros reconnaissance aircraft down in flames over Roeselare. At about the same time, Adjutant José Orta and Sous Lieutenant Louis de Burlet were the first to attack an enemy observation balloon when they dropped three small bombs on a gasbag over Houthulst. Luckily for them, they missed. On 18 January 1916, the decision was made to form a dedicated fighter squadron. On 22 February 1916, Escadrille I became the 1ère Escadrille de Chasse, it consisted of one obsolete Farman two-seater. In August, the new squadron would upgrade to Nieuport 11s, Escadrille V was turned into the 5ème Escadrille de Chasse; the new unit was the first to mount an offensive formation for the new air force. By this time, the AMB had grown to 44 aircraft, including 21 fighters.
At this point, individual aircraft bore personal markings affixed by their pilots, but no unit designations. In the summer of 1917, the AMB was allotted an active role in Allied aviation operations at the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres. In March 1918, the AMB matured into a Groupe de Chasse. At this time, the role of the Escadrilles de Chasse was focused on their operation as fighter units. There was a sorting out of pilots into reconnaissance roles. Not all fighter pilots went into the new fighter units; the King insisted. The newly organized fighter
North Macedonia the Republic of North Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991 under the name Republic of Macedonia; the country became a member of the United Nations in April 1993, but as a result of a dispute with Greece over the name, it was admitted under the provisional description the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a term, used by some other international organisations. In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece resolved the conflict with an agreement that the country should rename itself Republic of North Macedonia; this renaming came into effect in February 2019, with a several-months-long transition for passports, licence plates, customs, border signs, government websites, among other things. A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Albania to the west.
It constitutes the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which comprises the neighbouring parts of northern Greece and southwestern Bulgaria. The country's geography is defined by mountains and rivers; the capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Serbs, Bosniaks and Bulgarians; the history of the region dates back to antiquity, beginning with the kingdom of Paeonia a mixed Thraco-Illyrian polity. In the late sixth century BC, the area was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire annexed by the kingdom of Macedonia in the fourth century BC; the Romans conquered the region in the second century BC and made it part of the much larger province of Macedonia. Τhe area remained part of the Byzantine Empire, but was raided and settled by Slavic tribes beginning in the sixth century of the Christian era.
Following centuries of contention between the Bulgarian and Serbian Empire, it was part of the Ottoman dominion from the mid-14th until the early 20th century, when following the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the modern territory of North Macedonia came under Serbian rule. During the First World War it was ruled by Bulgaria, but after the end of the war, it returned under Serbian rule as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes. During the Second World War, it was ruled by Bulgaria again, in 1945 it was established as a constituent communist republic into the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, which it remained until its peaceful secession in 1991. North Macedonia is of the Council of Europe. Since 2005, it has been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership. One of the poorest countries in Europe, North Macedonia has made significant progress in developing an open, market-based economy; the state's name derives from a kingdom named after the ancient Macedonians.
Their name, Μακεδόνες, derives from the ancient Greek adjective μακεδνός, meaning tall or taper, which shares the same root as the adjective μακρός, meaning long, tall, or high, in ancient Greek. The name is believed to have meant either highlanders or the tall ones descriptive of the people. According to linguist Robert S. P. Beekes, both terms are of Pre-Greek substrate origin and cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European morphology. Prior to June 2018, the use of the name Macedonia was disputed between Greece and the then-Republic of Macedonia; the Prespa agreement, signed by Macedonia and Greece on 17 June, saw the country change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia eight months later. A non-binding national referendum on the matter passed with 90% approval but did not reach the required 50% turnout due to a boycott, leaving the final decision with parliament to ratify the result. Parliament approved of the name change on 19 October, reaching the required two-thirds majority needed to enact constitutional changes.
The vote to amend the constitution and change the name of the country passed on 11 January 2019 in favour of the amendment. The amendment entered into force on 12 February, following the ratification of the Prespa agreement and the Protocol on the Accession of North Macedonia to NATO by the Greek Parliament. On 25 January, the Greek parliament had narrowly voted to back the agreement, with 153 approving and 146 against. Prior to February 2019, in Macedonian the country name was Македонија Република Македонија. North Macedonia geographically corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Paeonia, located north of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Paeonia was inhabited by the Paeonians, a Thracian people, whilst the northwest was inhabited by the Dardani and the southwest by tribes known as the Enchelae and Lyncestae. In the late 6th century BC, the Achaemenid Persians under Darius the Great conquered the Paeonians, incorporating w
Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout is an unmanned autonomous helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman for use by the United States Armed Forces. The Fire Scout is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support and precision targeting support for ground and sea forces; the initial RQ-8A version was based on the Schweizer 330, while the enhanced MQ-8B was derived from the Schweizer 333. The larger MQ-8C Fire Scout variant is based on the Bell 407; as of February 2018, 23 MQ-8B variants were in service with the U. S. Navy; as the US Navy was withdrawing its RQ-2 Pioneers from service, it began to seek a second generation UAV. The Navy requirement specified a vertical takeoff & landing aircraft, with a payload capacity of 90 kg, a range of 125 miles, an endurance on station of three hours at an altitude of 20,000 feet, the ability to land on a ship in a 46 km/h wind; the UAV was to fly 190 hours before planned maintenance. There were three finalists in the competition, designated "VTOL-UAV" or "VTUAV".
Bell, a collaboration of Teledyne Ryan and Schweizer Aircraft submitted designs. The Ryan-Schweizer UAV was selected as the winner in the spring of 2000; the RQ-8A Fire Scout, as it was named, was a derivative of the Schweizer three-passenger, turbine powered 330SP helicopter, with a new fuselage, new fuel system, UAV electronics and sensors. The initial prototype of the Fire Scout was piloted in initial tests, flying autonomously for the first time in January 2000; the Rolls-Royce 250-C20 turbine engine ran on JP-5 jet fuel. The Fire Scout was to be fitted with a sensor ball turret that carries electro-optic and infrared cameras, a laser range finder, it was to be controlled over a data link derived from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV, operating over a line of sight to a distance of 172 miles. The control system was to be fitted onto a ship, or could be carried on a Humvee light vehicle for US Marine service. Although progress on the project had been regarded as satisfactory, the Navy decided the Fire Scout didn't meet their needs after all, cut funding for production in December 2001.
However, the development program continued, Northrop Grumman pitched a range of improved configurations to anyone, interested. As it turned out, the U. S. Army was interested, awarding a contract for seven improved RQ-8B evaluation machines in late 2003. In 2006, it was redesignated MQ-8B; the MQ-8B features a four-blade main rotor, in contrast to the larger-diameter three-blade rotor of the RQ-8A, to reduce noise and improve lift capacity and performance. The four-blade rotor had been evaluated on Fire Scout prototypes, they increase gross takeoff weight by 500 pounds, to 3,150 pounds with payloads of up to 700 pounds for short-range missions. The MQ-8B is 23.95 feet long, 6.2 feet wide, 9.71 feet tall. The MQ-8B is fitted with stub wings which serve both an aerodynamic purpose as well as an armament carriage location. Weapons to be carried include Hellfire missiles, Viper Strike laser-guided glide weapons, and, in particular, pods carrying the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, a laser-guided 70 mm folding-fin rocket, which the Army saw as ideal for the modern battlefield.
The Army was interested in using the Fire Scout to carry up to 200 pounds of emergency supplies to troops in the field. The MQ-8B is being modified to permit rapid swap out of payload configurations; the current sensor configuration of a day/night turret with a laser target designator will remain an option. Alternate sensor payloads in consideration include a TSAR with Moving Target Indicator capability, a multispectral sensor, a SIGINT module, the Target Acquisition Minefield Detection System, the Tactical Common Data Link; the Army wanted the Fire Scout to operate as an element of an integrated ground sensor network as well. In April 2006, production on the flight test airframes was initiated at Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems production plant in Moss Point, Mississippi; the first flight of the MQ-8B took place on 18 December 2006 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The Army interest revived Navy interest in the program, with the Navy ordering eight Sea Scout MQ-8B derivatives for evaluation.
In January 2010, the Army terminated its involvement with the Fire Scout, contending that the RQ-7 Shadow UAV could meet the Army's needs. In 2009, the Navy approved low-rate initial production; the MQ-8B complements the manned aviation detachments onboard Air Capable ships and is deployed along with a MH-60R HSM detachment or a MH-60S HSC detachment. With the planned addition of radar, AIS, weapons, the MQ-8B shall have many capabilities of the manned MH-60R, it will give air detachments greater flexibility in meeting mission demands, will free manned aircraft. On 23 September 2011, Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $17 million contract to outfit the MQ-8B with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided 70 mm rocket. By August 2013, the MQ-8B had completed 11 of 12 APWKS launches, with testing to be completed "shortly." By February 2016, the APKWS had been fielded on the MQ-8B. Due to its limited payload, the MQ-8B carries three tube rocket launchers. On 30 December 2012, the Navy issued an urgent order to install RDR-1700 maritime surveillance radars on nine MQ-8Bs.
The RDR-1700 is an X-band synthetic aperture radar housed in a modified radome mounted on the helicopter's underside for 360-degree coverage, interfaced with the UAV and its control station. Detailed range is out to 25 km, with a max range of 80 km (5
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman for use by the United States Navy. The MQ-8C has autonomous take-off and landing capability, it is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support and precision targeting support for ground and sea forces. The MQ-8C airframe is based on the Bell 407, while the avionics and other systems are developed from those used on the MQ-8B Fire Scout, it first flew in October 2013 and is in testing, with production at one point scheduled to start in March 2016. On 3 May 2010, Northrop announced plans to fly a Bell 407 helicopter modified with autonomous controls from the MQ-8B. Named Fire-X, it was to demonstrate an unmanned cargo resupply capability to the US Navy; the unmanned Fire-X completed its first flight at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on 20 December 2010. On 23 April 2012, Northrop received a $262.3 million contract from the Navy to build the newly designated MQ-8C Fire Scout.
The Navy wants 28 MQ-8Cs for naval special operations forces. In March 2013, the Navy incorporated the Rolls-Royce 250-C47E engine into the MQ-8C for a 5 percent increase in hot and high power, 2 percent reduced fuel consumption, 8 percent increase in rated takeoff power, better reliability; the Bell 407-based MQ-8C has an endurance of 12 hours, a range of 150 nmi, a payload capacity of about 318 kg. In early July 2013, Northrop Grumman delivered the first MQ-8C to the Navy. Ground testing was done to ensure that the systems worked properly and communicated with the ground control station prior to conducting the first flight; the MQ-8C shares software, avionics and ship ancillary equipment with the MQ-8B. The MQ-8C was expected to fly in early October 2013, be deployed in late 2014; the APKWS II was to be added to the C-model sometime after 2016, but ship integration issues and limited magazine space put the effort on hold until 2023. On 24 September 2013, the MQ-8C Fire-X delivered to the Navy turned on its engines for 10 minutes in preparation for first flight.
A second MQ-8C was to be delivered on 30 September. First flight was scheduled for early to mid-October, although the exact date was not determined, as such tests are delayed by minor system problems; the MQ-8C flight test regime is to last six months. The MQ-8C Fire Scout first flew on 31 October 2013, it flew for 7 minutes in restricted airspace using autonomous controls at Naval Base Ventura County. It flew a second time hours that day to an altitude of 500 ft; the MQ-8C was jointly operated by the Navy. Northrop Grumman delivered the second MQ-8C on 25 November 2013, they are under contract to build 14 helicopters. The second MQ-8C flew on 12 February 2014; the aircraft had flown 66 hours by February 2014. On 10 March 2014, the MQ-8C reached 100 flight hours. 19 C-model Fire Scouts are on order with two in flight testing. The MQ-8C began testing aboard the destroyer Jason Dunham on 16 December 2014, executing 22 landings and recoveries in less than four hours. Testing was completed on recoveries over three flights.
Northrop Grumman flew the MQ-8C demonstrator installed with their AN/ZPY-1 STARLite Radar, although there was no requirement for an MQ-8C radar at the time. Although the AN/ZPY-4 has been installed on some B-model Fire Scouts, the larger C-model can accommodate a larger and more powerful radar; the MQ-8C will be ready to perform surface warfare missions in 2018 and mine countermeasure missions in 2020. The aircraft's first deployment is expected for 2016 to give Littoral Combat Ships a 50 nmi -radius ISR capability; the Fire Scout program office is considering whether to equip the airframe itself to perform more missions or focus on manned-unmanned teaming with larger MH-60S/R Seahawk helicopters. On 26 May 2016, NAVAIR signed a contract for the Osprey 30 lightweight AESA radar for the MQ-8C, the first system of its type to offer full spherical coverage with no moving parts; the first operational MQ-8C was delivered to the US Navy in December 2014. Its final developmental flight was completed on 29 April 2015, after 450 hours completed in 327 flights.
In August 2015, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the MQ-8C's endurance with an 11-hour flight. On 20 November 2015, the MQ-8C completed a 3-week operational assessment period to assess system performance and reliability of the unmanned helicopter over 83.4 hours in 11 flights. To date, the aircraft logged 730 flight hours over 427 flights. Ship-based testing is expected to begin in 2017. In July 2018, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 concluded the initial operational test and evaluation of the MQ-8C, conducted aboard the USS Coronado. United StatesUnited States Navy Data from Northrop Grumman,General characteristics Crew: 0 Payload: 2,950 lb Length: 34.7 ft Rotor diameter: 36.6 ft Height: 10.9 ft Max. Takeoff weight: 6,000 lb Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce 250-C47B, 813 shp Performance Maximum speed: 140 knots Endurance: 15 hours maximum Service ceiling: 20,000 ft Related development Bell 407 Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout Related lists List of a