The Army is considering sending a revolutionary new kind of unmanned aerial vehicle to Iraq that can hover at 20,000 feet over the battlefield for more than eight hours, transmitting infrared and optical imagery to commanders on the ground.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout tactical unmanned aerial vehicle system - which only a few years ago seemed all but dead - is one system Army Vice-Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody requested this summer as a possible answer to an urgent battlefield need for unmanned surveillance in Iraq.
Officials with Fire Scout manufacturer Northrop Grumman told Military.com the Army could make a decision on whether to field the vertical take-off and landing drone by the end of August.
If all goes according to plan, the company could field as many as eight MQ-8Bs to units in Iraq by mid-2008.
"We want to get the Army to fly the Fire Scout as early as possible," said
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