CDR Salamander: This is not the Fire Scout you are looking for ….

The U.S. Navy is to award Northrop Grumman a contract to supply 28 MQ-8C Fire Scout “rapid deployment capability” (RDC) vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned aircraft using the larger Bell 407 helicopter airframe to increase endurance and payload.

via CDR Salamander: This is not the Fire Scout you are looking for …..


So the Navy spends over a decade developing the MQ-8B Firescout helicopter, and now wants to replace that airframe with the Bell 407 airframe.

The “evolutionary” approach of putting the systems from the earlier iteration into the 407 is relatively low risk. But that doesn’t mean it will be cheap or easy. The Navy will essentially have to perform ALL the integration and testing that they’ve already done with the “B” model. And there’s no guarantee that they won’t run into some problems. And they’ll still face all the problems with connectivity they had in the Operational Test and Evaluation phase of the “B” model.

Here’s a radical thought. How about integrating the sensors and weapons on the 407 airframe, and ask the Army to provide some Warrant Officers to fly them.

11 thoughts on “CDR Salamander: This is not the Fire Scout you are looking for ….”

  1. I was on a Navy blog somewhere forgettable and the guys were talking about Warrant Nasal Radiators. One guy said “I hope they fail.” because he didn’t want to see such blasphemy in his Navy. Hate to tell him, they ain’t gonna fail unless they simply say they failed, and then it would be a lie. The Army has been using flying Warrants nearly since teh time I was born in 1954 (can’t remember the exact year) and they did very well. Flying many of the same Helos the Navy and Marines were flying. Some, such as the Cobra, were higher performance, and the CH-47 and Skycrane made what the Navy was flying look pathetically weak by comparison.

    Frankly, I think putting them in F/A AC would work too, but that’s a bit of a stretch, at this point, for a hidebound service like The Navy.

    1. Every Naval Aviator I’ve talked to is aghast at the possibility that Warrant Officers can be trusted with aircraft. And comes up with a thousand different reasons why the Navy can’t do it. They’ve got blinders on.

  2. I helped do the first Firescout install on McInerney and while it looked really cool I had serious doubts about whether or not it would work.

  3. Brad, I guess the Naval Aviators forgot the Flying Chiefs that were a backbone of Naval Aviation at the start of WW2

    1. Paul Mankin was a close friend of my dad (the only enlisted USN ace of WWII) the last 20 years or so.

      And my dad was taught to fly the R4D-8 by an NAP in Sicily in 1960.

  4. Speaking as a Warrant Officer, the USN can go f-off.

    Bell 407s as in a OH-58D? Look up operation Prime Chance sometime, the Army aviation has already bailed them out once.

    1. I don’t think the 407 has the twin engine the 58D does. At least every pic I’ve seen of the 407 (if the captions are to be believed) doesn’t have it.

      I whole heartedly endorse you sentiments on the Navy and Warrant Ossifers. I think Warrants are going to be returning to the AF as well, although not in flying slots.

  5. If the Navy wants a twin engine the Bell 427 has two engines. xbradtc is correct the 58D has one engine. During Operation Prime Chance in the late 80’s/early 90’s before Desert Storm, first AH-6s and then armed OH-58D’s flown by Army WARRANT OFFICER aviators operated off of Navy ships and other platforms in the Persan Gulf…because the Navy had nothing that could do the job. AH-64D apaches train to perform overwater missions for the Navy off the coast off Korea flown by Warrant Officer aviators because the Navy can’t do that job. We’re all on the same team but some people in the Navy need to pull that stick out of their ass.

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