- Insomniac Spies in the Sky – Friendly or Enemy Eyes Lurking?
- Sleepless Drones Flying U.S. Skies Pose Threat to Public Safety
- New Chinese Drones Sink Final Nails into Neighbors’ Coffins?
- Insomniac Drones Get Implants and Sensory Augmentation Surgeries
- Israeli-Russian Drone Deals to Darken World Skies with Death
- Drone Super Technology Flies Stealthier as Gorgon Stare Sleeps
- High Flying Cops Invading the Friendly Skies of a Neighborhood near You
- Media Lost as Congress Adds Missile to HR658: Drones to Fly US Skies
- Drone Caucus Sings ‘Here I Come’ as They ‘Get Ready’ to Release Blind Birds
- Bin Laden Stung by MAV Bugbots, Killed by SEALS and Fed to the Sharks
- America’s War-Wearied Fighters Get HART from New Drone Technology
- Drones Dropping From Skies as U.S. and U.K. Prep Homeland Migration
- ‘Occupiers’ Attack a Worthy Objective, Target Police Drone Factory
- 7 Vital Secrets: How to Survive America’s Coming Spy Drone Attack
- Worried and Stressed Drone Pilots Set for Dazed and Confused Duty
- U.S. Plans Killer Weapons for Crash Prone Fire Scout Drone
- Huge Drone Hits Homeland; Obama & DHS Ignore Threat to Public
The U.S. Navy’s MQ-8 helicopter-like drone, the Fire Scout, was grounded early this month for its weak communication/control system. Northrop Grumman’s crash prone drone has had a questionable report card ever since the first three production model Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAV) were delivered to the Navy in November, 2009. Despite the MQ-8’s performance and operational problems, the U.S. military is moving ahead with plans to equip MQ-8Bs and MQ-8Cs with a vast array of killer weapons.
All 14 Fire Scouts currently flown from the decks of U.S. warships are sitting idle due to their communication and control problems. Two of the precious Fire Scouts ($16 million each) were lost in just two weeks. One of them had to be sent crashing into the waters off the coast of West Africa as controllers failed to gain enough control to land it safely on the deck of the USS Simpson. The second was lost while on an intelligence gathering mission in northern Afghanistan. Information has not been released as to what caused the Scout to go down.
The MQ-8 Fire Scout has had a history plagued with problems. A Pentagon report from last year detailed a mere 50 percent success rate for its missions aboard the USS Halyburton. The same report noted failures in 10 of 10 test missions before the Fire Scouts were deployed to Afghanistan.
Last summer a Fire Scout was shot down while delivering intelligence from the skies over Libya. Although it was reported to have been “shot down” NATO confirmed that there was a “loss of communications” before it went down.
Washington D.C. had a real scare in August, 2010 when an MQ-8 Fire Scout “flew out of control” toward the U.S. capital. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was watching the Scout closely and had considered shooting the errant drone down but was hesitant due to its proximity to the highly populated area. Fortunately, after twenty minutes of panicked fear, the Navy regained control and NORAD’s standing F-16 fighter jets were unnecessary.
The MQ-8 Fire Scout’s record has been far from stellar. One has to ask why the military signed a $17 million deal in November to equip the crash prone drones with hell-fire breathing arsenals of “precision kill weapons.” The MQ-8Bs and their big brother MQ-8Cs, still in production at Northrop Grumman, will then be carrying lethal assortments of Hellfire missiles, Viperstrike laser-guided glide weapons and laser-guided 70mm rockets. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) will breathe death upon our enemies and fear onboard our warships.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout is not a small drone. The helicopter-like UAV is 24 feet long, stands 9 feet tall, and weighs 2,073 pounds. It’s powered by a Rolls Royce 250 engine and can carry up to 700 pounds. Maximum flight time is 8 hours and maximum ceiling is 20,000 feet.
The newer MQ-8C version is being fitted into the chassis of a Bell 407 helicopter. The 407 version MQ-8C will be known as the Fire-X and the larger chassis will be able to carry a huge APKWS killing arsenal. Gizmodo.com reports that “28 Fire-Xs are under construction and will be delivered in 2014.”
Data link failures similar to what the MQ-8 Fire Scouts have experienced in the past will rain near certain death upon anything in crashing flight paths. “No worries,” according to the U.S. government since the Navy plans to add 34 new Fire Scouts over the next five years. Six of them are scheduled to be delivered in fiscal 2013.
Life onboard our Navy warships will soon get a lot more dangerous when the “killer” Fire Scouts begin their missions. Communication and control failures will be deadly to friends and to foes.
Let’s hope that the “killer” Fire Scouts are deployed over open waters and enemy territories. We have learned, however, after passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2012, that U.S. drones will soon be coming home. With 30,000 drones expected to be patrolling homeland skies by 2015, the Scouts will soon be on the homeland prowl.
Take care, eyes up . . . and do NOT run afoul!