July 27, 2005 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's RQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned air vehicle (UAV) reached another important milestone this week when the UAV successfully fired two test rockets. This is the first successful live weapons fire from an autonomous unmanned helicopter. This event proves Fire Scout's ability to perform strike missions -- in addition to conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- and subsequently expands its capabilities.
The test supports the U.S. Navy's and U.S. Army's interest in weaponizing Fire Scout, which fired two 2.75-inch Mark 66 unguided rockets at Arizona's Yuma Proving Grounds.
Once the Fire Scout lifted off, it traveled approximately 10 miles to the firing range where the first rocket was fired. Fire Scout was in forward flight at about 40 mph during the first firing. A second rocket launch was conducted later in the day as Fire Scout increased speed, traveling at 52 mph.
The weapons loading, mission planning and execution took place as planned. The successful tests and information obtained from them are critical to the evolution of weapons capabilities for both the Navy and Army Fire Scout.
"Today's test is a big step in the development of future UAVs across the entire industry," said Doug Fronius, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout program director.
"Fire Scout is a very versatile platform that provides ever-increasing capability to the warfighter and this milestone further illustrates the benefits of spiral development."
Northrop Grumman is the leading producer of unmanned systems for the United States' military and is advancing its unmanned-systems capabilities in the areas of command and control, open system architecture, manned/unmanned interoperability, and software development. The company's portfolio spans a broad spectrum of capabilities. Current systems in service, production or development include the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk and Army RQ-5 Hunter currently supporting the global war on terrorism; the BQM-34 and BQM-74 aerial targets; the multi-role Hunter II proposed for the Army's next-generation, extended-range, multi-purpose UAV program; the X-47 Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Air Force and Navy; and advanced systems like the KillerBee program being developed for low-altitude, long-endurance missions.