The MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman for the US Navy is all set to be deployed in October 2009.

The 22ft-long, 9ft-high unmanned aerial vehicle is being readied to fly on naval operations to fight drug dealing in the Caribbean Sea.

Northrop Grumman’s John VanBrabant said that the mission is preprogrammed into the aircraft and it flies the mission.

“One of the key concepts behind Fire Scout is that a commander doesn’t have to put a large aircraft or pilot in the air to do the same job,” said VanBrabant

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“It’s that dull mission in the middle of the night where you have to watch a piece of the ocean or a mountain pass where you don’t necessarily need an F-18 or a manned helicopter just circling.”

The Fire Scout will be operated aboard the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney for counter drug missions and will be placed on the navy’s newest littoral combat ship at a later date.

The helicopter is capable of flying 110 miles from a ship and circling in the air for up to five hours providing real-time information to the ship.

Northrop Grumman assembled the Fire Scout at its Mississippi facility and completed the critical component testing at the facility in Rancho Bernardo.