UAS Being Built Into Constellation-class LCS
Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS recently made its second operational deployment – from the USS Jackson littoral combat ship (LCS) – marking its first operational appearance in the Indo-Pacific, the company announced on 23 May.
“The MQ-8C Fire Scout is an extremely flexible unmanned aerial system and a pillar in the Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan,” said Capt Dennis Monagle, USN. “While Fire Scout will still be active on remaining littoral combat ships, the system is being built into the Constellation-class frigate design, most notably the USS Constellation (FFG-62), as well as other ship classes.”
The UAS continues to deploy on LCS, with future deployments planned on Constellation-class vessels and operations from shore sites under the Expeditionary Advance Base Operations concept, including potential logistics cargo role. Other potential future roles for the MQ-8C include mine countermeasures and ASW.
“The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s initial deployment was aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) in the Caribbean Sea,” commented Lance Eischeid, Director, Fire Scout Program, Northrop Grumman. “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.”
In addition to providing critical decision-making, Fire Scout supports advanced capabilities, including demonstrating manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT), enabling sensor information sharing across a distributed force, further increasing survivability, reducing risk to and burden on manned aircraft, and enhancing weapons capacity. It is furthering the successful integration of unmanned platforms and manned assets at sea.