The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has had a colorful history. The program was begun with promise by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, and finally revived by the Navy as well. The MQ-8B Fire Scout is currently linked with two major new defense programs: the Future Combat Systems
program and the USA’s new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS); this is both helpful to the program because of the implicit commitments, and harmful because it ties the UAV to a pair of programs that have endured stormy histories and may face more turbulence ahead. Meanwhile, a competition expected in 2008-2010 may see the Fire Scout used by the US Marines, and the US Coast Guard’s Deepwater program is another potential buyer.
Fire Scout-related awards to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have been quite varied. DID lists them, along with budgetary figures from official DoD history and capabilities. The latest developments include an order for surveillance and targeting turrets, and a software development contract…