That’s a weird way to move a U.S. Navy drone copter: MQ-8B Fire Scout spotted on a trailer on Interstate 405

An MQ-8 Fire Scout was spotted on a trailer on I-405 at Newport Beach, California

Few months ago we published an image of an MQ-8C Fire Scout, the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) obtained by giving autonomous controls to a Bell 407 helicopter, on a trailer moving northbound on Interstate 405 near Newport Beach, California.

Whilst some readers suggested the aircraft was a model/mock-up, others were pretty certain the MQ-8C was one of the 28 such drones the Navy plans to operate in support of  naval special operations forces.

Interestingly, the same reader who had taken the photograph of the MQ-8C was able to get a shot of an MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV), a smaller “Fire Scout” drone copter capable to autonomously take-off and land from any aviation-capable warship and at unprepared landing zones and to find, identify, track and illuminate targets and to provide targeting data to other strike platform as well as perform BDA (Battle Damage Assessment).

The tiny drone was used during the air war in Libya; one MQ-8B drone copter was shot down during an ISR mission in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Anyway, the new image of an (uncovered) MQ-8B on a trailer seems to prove this is Northrop Grumman’s standard way to move its unmanned aircraft. At least Sikorsky uses a protective cover when moving helicopters on a trailer….

Image credit: “Spencer”


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. If the FAA would just hurry up and publish rules for integrated UAV air traffic, then this wouldn’t need to happen.

  2. AIRPAC has decided to base the MQ-8B/C force at the airfield at Point Magu, CA in Ventura County North of Los Angeles, and then truck those being assigned to fleet units at Naval Station San Diego and Naval Air Station North Island.This is probably how the MQ-8B assigned to HSM-35 aboard the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) was moved prior to deployment of the ship on her current 16 month WESTPAC deployment

  3. They’re moving a helicopter on a flat bed. Diesel fuel is cheaper than jet fuel. I don’t see much of an issue really, it’s a small thing, it fits nicely, there’s plenty of room to spare, and we got a nice photograph out of it.

    • Diesel fuel and jet fuel is the same thing.
      now there is a big difference between av-gas and diesel fuel or jet fuel.

      • I always thought JP5/8 was different than diesel but indeed, there’s quite a many similarities. Go figure, learn something new every few days, thanks.

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