Fire Scout proves worth

June 16, 2011 at 7:07 AM
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PATUXENT RIVER, Md., June 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy says its Fire Scout unmanned helicopter is proving its ISR capability during its first land-based, Central Command deployment.

The Fire Scout, managed by Navy and Marine Corps Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air Systems program office, deployed in late April to CENTCOM in response to a U.S. Department of Defense intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance task force request.

The aircraft provides ISR services in northern Afghanistan.

"We are very pleased with Fire Scout's performance during both its ship-based and CENTCOM deployments," said Navy Capt. Tim Dunigan, the program manager. "The team has done an exceptional job testing and maintaining the system to ensure we could meet the warfighter's demands."

Fire Scout's initial flight in theater took place May 2, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command said. Only 19 days later, PMA-266 Detachment Alpha established initial operational capability during its first tasked mission from the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command North area of responsibility.

The Fire Scout system provides full motion video and imagery from its electro-optical and infrared sensor payload along with laser designation of targets for troops in the field.

With flight endurance of more than five hours, the system offers a long-dwell sensor with real-time, dynamic re-tasking capability to respond to tactical forces.

"Our team is very excited about the first expeditionary deployment of the Fire Scout system", said Navy Cmdr. Brian Stephens, officer in charge for PMA-266 Detachment Alpha. "In less than one month, we have flown more than 200 flight hours and completed more than 80 sorties and we are on track to fly 300 hours per month."

PMA-266 Detachment Alpha is a government-owned, contractor-operated deployment. The detachment includes a military OIC and assistant OIC, five Navy intelligence analysts and 21 Northrop Grumman contractors to conduct missions in support of RC North tasking.

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