The MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter conducts first test flight from USS Montgomery (LCS-8) April 5 off the coast of California. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
The U.S. Navy’s Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout has completed initial testing aboard the USS Montgomery, the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said. The helicopter drone returned April 11 after a week of evaluation.
“This test established the MQ-8C Fire Scout as a maritime platform, bringing superior endurance and payload flexibility to the fleet, bringing capability that the U.S. Navy will continue to use for many years to come,” said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager.
Navy sailors, along with the Fire Scout test team, conducted dynamic interface testing. This verified the aircraft launch and recovery procedures, and tested interoperability between the drone and the ship. More than 37 recovery evolutions were conducted during testing, to verify the drone’s ability to operate without degradation from electromagnetic interference. It also provided pitch, roll and wind limits.
“Fire Scout complements the manned MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations,” Navair said. “It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the Navy with its ability to detect, identify, track and potentially engage threats at extended ranges while supporting maritime requirements across the range of military operations.”
Larger than the MQ-8B, the 8C has endurance of eight hours on station, a range of 150 nm and payload of 700 pounds. Navair expects initial operational test and evaluation this fall.