The U.S. Navy is changing the mission of its MQ-8C Fire Scout rotary-wing unmanned systems to make Littoral Combat Ships more lethal to keep up with the changing warfare, USNI News reported Wednesday. In 2018, the service began the effort to shift Fire Scout away from missions to protect LCS. Instead, the aircraft will focus on providing targeting information to weapons aboard the ship.
Previous plans intended to provide Fire Scouts with 70mm Hydra rockets equipped with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System guidance system. Under the new plan, the Navy is redesigning the aircraft to carry sensors to extend the range of LCS to find and track threats.
“What’s important to us right now is making sure we have the right sensors, a good multi-function radar, some kind of passive targeting capability and the right networks to push that information to the right people at the right times,” said Cmdr. Edward Johnson, the Navy’s Fire Scout requirements officer.
The Naval Air Systems Command is also considering using the Fire Scout on the Navy’s next-generation frigate, FFG(X), to provide the same targeting capability.