A Fire Scout drone helo took off for the first time and completed a successful first flight from the deck of a littoral combat ship underway.
The testing took place off an Independence Class LCS, USS Montgomery during a two-week series of tests off the coast of California. The test took place approximately 2 years after the first delivery of the drone to the service.
The drone had previously conducted an at-sea flight off an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG-108), in December 2015.
“Fire Scout’s successful testing aboard USS Montgomery and USS Dunham proves its capability to fly from multiple air capable ships,” Navy Capt. Jeff Dodge Fire Scout program manager for Naval Air Systems Command, said in a statement released by Fire Scout manufacturer Northrop Grumman Corporation. “We plan to have the MQ-8C Fire Scout deployed aboard multiple ships in the near future, giving the fleet the persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting asset they need.”
LCS equipped for surface warfare are designed to carry upto 2 MQ-8B Fire Scouts, while those deploying for one of the other mission sets will carry one.
“This testing is critical as it provides the flight envelope to safely execute MQ-8C flights from this class of ship,” Richard Gorman, Fire Scout lead assistant program manager for test and evaluation, said in a statement. “This test puts the MQ-8C one step closer to successfully deploying aboard the Navy’s fleet of littoral combat ships.”
Helicopter Squadron 23 is currently operating onboard the deployed USS Coronado, with two MQ-8B Fire Scouts in the South China Sea.
Pic credits – U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman