Saturday, August 6, 2011
Lost one MQ 8B Fire Scout
Lost: The Northrop Grumman MQ 8B Fire Scout was 'lost', probably to enemy action, over Libya earlier this year
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 4:14 AM on 6th August 2011
A Navy drone that disappeared along the coast in central Libya in June was probably shot down by Colonel Gadhafi's forces, a U.S. military investigation has concluded.
According to Lieutenant Comander Mark Walton - a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet - the unmanned Fire Scout drone that disappeared on June 21 was not brought down by mechanical failure or operator error.
The location of the crash along with the fighting going on there made it impossible for investigators to examine the wreckage or the crash site, so they can't be completely sure what happened, Walton said.
As a result, he said they came to the 'logical conclusion' that it was probably shot down.
The Fire Scout was unarmed and conducting a surveillance mission for NATO when officials suddenly lost radar contact with it.
The U.S. has been providing drones for the Libyan conflict, including armed Predators that have been used to strike targets on nearly 70 missions.
A coalition including France, Britain and the United States began striking Gadhafi's forces under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians on March 19.
NATO assumed control of the air campaign over Libya on March 31.
According to officials, this is the first time a Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout has been lost in combat.
A year ago, one of the Fire Scouts went off course during testing and entered restricted airspace near the nation's capital.
Controllers were able to reprogram the drone and bring it back to the Webster Field Annex at the naval air station at Patuxent River, Maryland.
Northrop Grumman's Transformational Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system provides unprecedented situation awareness and precision targeting support for U.S. Armed Forces of the future.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to the soldier in contact.
Autonomous operations from all air-capable ships
>8 hours continuous system on station coverage
Ceiling and airspeed: 20,000 ft, 125 + kts
>5 hours on station time (single vehicle) at 110 nm
Target location error < 12 m CEP
Interoperability through Tactical Control System (TCS) software and STANAG 4586 Compliance Payload Features
Modular Mission Payloads (MMP)
Plug and play product
Baseline MMP capability
EO/IR laser range finder designator
Voice/data communication relay
600 pound lift capacity
COMINT/SIGINT, Tactical Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR/MTI), Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), SATCOM,Sonobuoy delivery, expendables employment, threat countermeasures, mine detection, etc.
Providing organic Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Targeting (ISR/T) capabilities
Provides Over The Horizon (OTH) targeting
Provides "real- time" Battle Damage Assessment
Implements network centric warfare concepts with communications relay capability
Defense IT Standard Registry/Joint Technical Architecture (DISR/JTA) compliant
Fully interoperable between land and sea-based Tactical Control Systems
Legacy of High Reliability:
Based on a Schweizer Aircraft commercial airframe with over 20 million flight hours, the Fire Scout vehicle incorporates reliable turbine power (160 million flight hours) using standard NATO heavy fuel. Leveraging from this FAA certified aircraft with commonality of over 50 percent of the mechanical parts, the servicing and logistical processes are well known, proven and documented. This "low risk" approach for the airframe allows effective maturation of the entire system within a short development schedule.