Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout VTOL UAV completes developmental flight test

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Naval Forces News - USA
 
 
 
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout VTOL UAV completes developmental flight test
 
The U.S. Navy’s new, larger MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its developmental flight test. The unmanned helicopter has completed 327 flights and logged over 450 hours. The system has met all of its performance objectives that allow it to begin operational test later this year.
     
The U.S. Navy’s new, larger MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its developmental flight test. The unmanned helicopter has completed 327 flights and logged over 450 hours. The system has met all of its performance objectives that allow it to begin operational test later this year.
An MQ-8C Fire Scout conducts its final developmental test flight April 29 from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. Since its first flight in October 2013, the Navy's new, larger unmanned helicopter has completed 327 flights and logged over 450 hours. The system has met all of its performance objectives that allow it to begin operational test later this year. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
     
The MQ-8C Fire Scout is an upgrade to the existing “B” variant, which first deployed in 2009. With its larger airframe, the “C” can fly nearly twice as long and carry three times more payload than its predecessor.

The MQ-8C team is leveraging lessons learned from MQ-8B operations. The “B” variant has routinely flown from frigates and most recently from the littoral combat ship (LCS).
     
The U.S. Navy’s new, larger MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter returned from a five-day test period aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) Dec. 19 after successfully completing its first ship-based flights off the Virginia coast. The Fire Scout test team and Sailors aboard Dunham conducted dynamic interface testing with the MQ-8C to verify the system’s launch and recovery procedures before the system undergoes operational test next year.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout conducted test operations aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) Dec. 17 off the coast of Virginia. During the five-day underway period, the MQ-8C completed its first ship-based flights to prepare for operational test in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
     
Since most of the MQ-8Cs components are identical to the “B” variant, the team has high confidence that it will operate effectively from the ship, Dodge said. The system performed “very well” during the yearlong ground-based tests in Point Mugu, California so he anticipates seamless integration with Dunham this week.

Teamed with the manned MH-60 helicopter, the MQ-8 Fire Scout extends the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the Navy.

In addition to 30 MQ-8Bs that have been delivered by Northrop Grumman, the Navy plans to procure a total of 40 MQ-8Cs to support LCS and other air-capable ships.
 

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