Fire Scout supports operations in Afghanistan

The MQ-8B Fire Scout took the skies for the first time in northern Afghanistan May 2 in support of joint and allied military operations. (U.S. Navy photo)

The MQ-8B Fire Scout took the skies for the first time in northern Afghanistan May 2 in support of joint and allied military operations. (U.S. Navy photo)

Jun 14, 2011

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NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- The Navy’s Fire Scout is proving its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability during its first land-based deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The Fire Scout, managed by Navy and Marine Corps Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air Systems program office (PMA-266), deployed in late April to CENTCOM in response to a DoD ISR Task Force request to provide ISR services in northern Afghanistan.

In nine months, PMA-266, in conjunction with ISR task force leadership and Northrop Grumman, conducted site surveys of various basing locations, interfaced with key leadership personnel in the CENTCOM chain of command, planned and executed deployment preparations and sustainment for joint and allied military operations in Regional Command North, Afghanistan.

“We are very pleased with Fire Scout’s performance during both its ship-based and CENTCOM deployments,” said Capt. Tim Dunigan, PMA-266 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. 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. Additionally, a communication relay capability provides a beyond-line-of-sight capacity for troops and their commanders.

“Our team is very excited about the first expeditionary deployment of the Fire Scout system”, said Cmdr. Brian Stephens, Officer in Charge (OIC) 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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MQ-8C Fire Scout flying over Webster Field Annex. (U.S. Navy photo)

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