Sunday, December 7, 2014
WASHINGTON – A new level of activity is taking place with the Navy's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, according to Defense News. For the first time, Fire Scouts will be at sea on four ships at the same time. Two East Coast-based frigates are deployed, each with four MQ-8B models. The LCS Forth Worth recently left San Diego for a planned 16-month deployment with a hybrid aviation detachment of one MQ-8B and one MH-60R Seahawk manned helicopter. Early this month the California-based Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf got underway carrying two Fire Scouts, a first for an NSC. There are two variants of Fire Scout: the B model uses a Schweizer 333 airframe, and the much larger C model uses a Bell 407. Procurement of the B model has ended, with a total of seven test and 23 operational aircraft delivered by Northrop Grumman. Seven of those aircraft have been lost in accidents or stricken. Two Fire Scouts were damaged in October at Wallops Island, Va., when their hangar was damaged in the explosion of an Antares rocket. One of those already has been repaired and is deployed aboard Bertholf. The other is being repaired. (Source: Defense News, 12/06/14) Gulf Coast note: Final assembly of Fire Scouts is done in Moss Point, Miss.; Bertholf was built in Pascagoula, Miss.; LCS Independence class ships are built in Mobile, Ala.