Machine Design

Scanning for Ideas: Unmanned UAV to be a Recon Ranger

The Fire Scout UAV from Northrop Grumman Corp., San Diego (, could be a long-range scout for the U.S. Army and Navy.

Edited by Stephen J. Mraz

It has already flown 200 test flights and is currently in further test and evaluation. Fire Scout carries radar, IR sensors, laser range finder and target designator, RFemission detector, mine, chemical, and radiological sensors, and a communication-relay suite. The vehicle can also land and take off on its own, with no pilot or other controller in the loop. But it also carries the military’s UAV Common Automatic Recovery System (UCARS), a ground-based radar that tracks UAVs and sends positioning commands to ground control stations to maneuver the aircraft. While the Navy will launch and recover the unmanned helicopter from ships, it can also land on unprepared fields, a plus for Army operations.

The aircraft weighs 3,150 lb and can carry a 600-lb payload. It can fly up to 20,000 ft, and stay aloft for 8 hr, or 5 hr with a 500-lb payload. Its Rolls Royce turboshaft jet engine gives it a top speed of 125 knots.

For more information and a look at the Scout in action, see it on Engineering TV at

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