A US Army demonstration effort linking Hunter unmanned air vehicles directly to strike platforms has stalled due to lack of testing equipment, prompting the service to consider substituting the Northrop Grumman RQ-8A Fire Scout for the role.

A demonstration of the Hunter Standoff Killer Team (HSKT) concept was due to begin this month, but the army's stock of Hunters and the bulk of Boeing AH-64 Apaches are deployed to Iraq, says Col William Gavora, chief of the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD).

The HSKT is on hold until a Hunter becomes available or a replacement is approved, says Gavora, who adds that his first choice is to wait for the Hunter. AATD is in no rush to make a decision, as a software compatibility glitch has emerged in the HSKT's chosen targeting pod, which Gavora declined to identify.

But Gavora says "we'd like Fire Scout as a future member" of the HSKT programme. The army's Future Combat Systems programme has also selected the RQ-8B Fire Scout for the division-level multipurpose UAV role. The decision has drawn interest from the US Navy to join the development effort for the four-rotor RQ-8B configuration.

Source: Flight International