Northrop Grumman has helped the U.S. Navy train a detachment of air vehicle operators from the service branch’s helicopter sea combat squadron 23 to perform a two-part flight demonstration of the Northrop-built MQ-8B Fire Scout autonomous helicopter.
The Navy conducted in May the first part of the demonstration in which AVOs at a naval auxiliary landing field in San Clemente Island, California, transferred controls of the unmanned helicopter to operators at a ground control station in Point Mugu, California, during mid-flight, Northrop said in an Aug. 15 news release.
The HSC 23 squadron’s detachment also used Fire Scout to serve as a laser designator tool for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter during the pre-deployment exercise with the USS America (LHA 6) amphibious assault ship and its marine expedition unit as part of the demonstration’s second phase.
The Seahawk aircraft deployed a Hellfire missile to engage a mobile surface target after it received targeting information from Fire Scout during the demonstration.
Northrop’s Fire Scout instructors provided the simulation training to the Navy’s AVOs through its San Diego-based autonomous design facility that has offered training to at least 70 pilots.