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Northrop Grumman-Developed US Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout Shines At Sea

29th May 2009 - 17:15 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) successfully completed the latest set of fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney (FFG-8) in support of dynamic interface testing.

This was a critical step for the US Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout toward Operational Evaluation (OpEval), scheduled for later this summer.

These recent flight tests took place May 4-8 off the coast of Mayport, Fla. The US Navy Fire Scout completed test flights in areas of shipboard deck motion and wind envelope expansion and landings including the use of the grid and harpoon system.

All flights onboard the USS McInerney included use of the shipboard UAV Common Auto Recovery System (UCARS) used for vehicle position data during shipboard landings.

During the five days of testing, the ship/aircraft team compiled 19 flight hours during 12 flights, which included 54 landings, 37 of which were into the NATO standard grid. Operations were conducted with ship speeds up to 14 knots, ship roll up to five degrees, and wind over deck of up to 25 knots. All test events were completed satisfactorily, which will set the stage for OpEval.

"The Navy Fire Scout has successfully completed fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney and we are thrilled with the results.

The recent success allows us to continue to work towards OpEval," said Doug Fronius, MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV program director for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "We look forward to continuing to mature Fire Scout, as it will bring us closer to supplying the fleet with a VTUAV that provides unprecedented situational awareness and precision targeting support."

The Fire Scout first embarked aboard the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, while in port for operational fit checks and ship integration testing on Dec. 10, 2008.

The Fire Scout is slated to deploy aboard USS McInerney during its next counter-narcotics trafficking deployment later this year.

The Shephard News Team


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