> our title:

Fire Scout UAV Completes Ship-based Test Period

> original title:

MQ-8C Fire Scout Completes First Ship-Based Test Period

(Source: US Naval Air Systems Command; issued Dec 23, 2014)

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. --- The 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.

“By better understanding ship operations, we will have a smoother transition into operational test,” said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager. “This exercise gives us insight into operating from an air-capable ship and will help us mitigate any risk associated with the system.”

During this underway period, the Fire Scout completed three flights and 32 takeoffs and recoveries. The data collected during these test events helped the team assess the system's performance at different combinations of wind and ship motion and get a better understanding of how the aircraft behaved around the ship, he said.

"This system has the potential to enhance the fleet's ability to conduct airborne-over the horizon searches and targeting that would expand a myriad of missions, while maintaining a conceivably small support element,” said Cmdr. Darren Dugan, commanding officer for DDG 109. “I'm excited to be part of this testing and evaluation period for the MQ-8C."

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).

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.

Thus US Navy video offers a look at the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter operating from USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) during its first shipboard flight Dec. 16 off the coast of Virginia. The new, larger Fire Scout conducted a series of flight events during the five-day underway period to prepare for operational test next year.


Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout Takes First Flight On USS Jason Dunham

(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.; issued December 23, 2014)

NORFOLK, Va. --- The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), Dec. 16, off the Virginia coast.

After more than a year of land-based testing at Point Mugu, California, the MQ-8C Fire Scout grew its sea legs, making 22 takeoffs and 22 precision landings while being controlled from the ship's ground control station.

"The MQ-8C Fire Scout's flights from the USS Dunham represent a significant Navy milestone. This is the first sea-based flight of the MQ-8C and the first time an unmanned helicopter has operated from a destroyer," said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command. "The extended capabilities will offer the Navy a dynamic, multipurpose unmanned helicopter with increased endurance, allowing for our ship commanders and pilots to have a longer on station presence."

"These dynamic interface tests are an essential part in clearing the operational envelope of the system and are proving the system's ability to operate off any air-capable ship," said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace System. "We are on track to validate all of the critical performance parameters of this Navy asset and ready the system for deployment and operational use."

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.