In a series of recent flight tests off the coast of San Diego the Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy victoriously took to the air with the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout simultaneously with the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, what was their first time in flight.
The testing took place aboard the USS Freedom Littoral Combat Ship (LCS1) as a demonstration of how two or more aircrafts can drastically increase a ship commander’s ability to gather intelligence. The Fire Scout possesses the indefatigable stamina for five hours of airtime, taking off autonomously from warship aviation decks and logging at least 12,500 hours flying from land and sea.
“Utilizing the Fire Scout in operational maritime scenarios with manned aircraft will prove to be a unique asset to our fleet,” said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager. “The sensors of the Fire Scout are providing complimentary situational awareness and precision targeting support for the MH-60R Sea Hawk and LCS1.”
Fire Scout’s durability, with the Sea Hawk’s eyes, yields great potential for consistent surveillance on any given target or points of interest. The MQ-8B is in the midst of its eighth sea deployment–after completing a two-year intelligence-gathering mission in Afghanistan–taking on a multifarious workload of surveillance and security missions onboard Navy gunships.
“Fire Scout is giving our warfighters enhanced persistent situational awareness,” said George Vardoulakis, VP of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Medium-range Tactical Systems. “Fire Scout systems are providing critical information to the pilots of the MH-60R Sea Hawk and the sailors of the Littoral Combat Ship to ensure that they are protected from maritime threats.”
Watch the video here.
–Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide-