Fire Scout demonstration reveals rapid mine countermeasures benefits
The USN declared on 7 July that it has tested a prototype Single System Multi-Mission Airborne Mine Detection (SMAMD) system successfully aboard an MQ-8C Fire Scout rotary-wing UAV for the first time.
A demonstration of SMAMD at Eglin Air Force Base in May 2022 aimed to gather data to ‘inform future MCM [mine countermeasures] integration efforts’, the USN noted.
Capt Thomas Lansley, MQ-8C programme director, claimed that the demonstration showed that the SMAMD prototype system ‘effectively operates as designed’ aboard the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter ‘in relevant real world environments’.
Developed by BAE Systems with sponsorship from the US Office of Naval Research, SMAMD is an airborne optical sensor suite that detects and localises mines and obstacles in a single pass.
SMAMD sends detection data in real time via data link, to allow a prompt MCM response to threat items.
In the demonstration, the SMAMD-equipped Fire Scout detected drifting, tethered, and moored mines from littoral zones to deep waters.
The demonstration also proved the reliable and repeatable high performance of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
Fire Scout handled the dual podded SMAMD system ‘with ease’, the USN claimed, as the first MCM carried by the MQ-8C ‘as well as the heaviest payload carried to date’.
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