US green-lights unmanned helicopter sale to Taiwan

The MQ-8 Fire Scout is equipped with aerial fire capacities and can provide reconnaissance support

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (Photo...

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (Photo...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Purchase of the U.S.-developed unmanned autonomous helicopter "MQ-8 Fire Scout" is currently under consideration by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense.

The item was listed in a military procurement request by Taiwan during a bilateral defense conference in Hawaii last year. Its sale has recently been approved by the U.S., reports said.

The Taiwanese Navy has expressed interest in purchasing the aircraft, which can carry AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided rockets. It also boasts vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, as well as equipment for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, according to Liberty Times in citing a report by Up Media.

The report suggests the Navy plans to phase out the MD Helicopters MD 500 series in favor of autonomous aircrafts, hence the request to buy the aerial vehicles. The MQ-8 Fire Scout has the potential to become part of a multi-purpose weapon system combined with anti-submarine helicopters, the Navy believes.

The Ministry of National Defense will need to verify the sale and receive funds before it officially submits a procurement request to the U.S. government, wrote Liberty Times.