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MQ-8C Fire Scout flies from US Navy destroyer

30th December 2014 - 14:15 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS has flown from the US Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham, off the Virginia coast on 16 December, Northrop Grumman has announced. This marks the first time the system has flown from the deck of a destroyer.

The MQ-8C completed 22 take-offs and precision landings during the testing, while being controlled from the ship’s ground control station.

Previous to the flights the UAS had completed more than a year of land-based testing at Point Mugu in California.

Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace System, added: ‘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. 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.’

The US Navy received the first operational MQ-8C from Northrop Grumman earlier in December. Northrop Grumman is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft. The US Navy plans to purchase a total of 70 aircraft.          

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