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MQ-8B Fire Scout in two-part demo
A detachment from the US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 has carried out a two part exercise with the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAS, Northrop Grumman announced on 15 August.
The exercise saw two radar-equipped MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopters handed off between multiple ground stations for the first time. The aircraft then demonstrated its ability to provide critical, real-time targeting information to a manned MH-60S Seahawk helicopter.
The Fire Scouts were launched by a mobile mission control station located at the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island. The San Clemente-based operators then successfully exchanged controls of the Fire Scout in-flight to controllers operating from a ground control station at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California. This hand-off exchange was then repeated during the return trip to San Clemente Island.
The second part of the demonstration saw the MQ-8B Fire Scout act as a force multiplier during an integrated pre-deployment exercise and training with amphibious assault ship USS America and its ready group/marine expedition unit. The radar equipped MQ-8B Fire Scout acted as laser designator platform for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter that engaged with a moving surface contact using a Hellfire missile.
In May 2017, Northrop Grumman supported the navy's planning and rehearsal for the entire mission ahead of the actual flights, using the Fire Scout simulators at the company's Autonomous Design Center of Excellence in San Diego, California.
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