Navy's New Fire Scout
Unmanned Helicopter Takes its First Flight
From Naval Air Systems Command.
Point Mugu, California -- November 1, 2013 -- (NNS)
-- The Navy's newest variant of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its
first day of flying Oct. 31 at Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu.
At 12:05 p.m. PDT the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off and flew for seven minutes in
restricted airspace to validate the autonomous control systems. The second
flight that took off at 2:39 p.m. was also flown in a pattern around the
airfield, reaching an altitude of 500 feet.
An MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV takes off from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu
The MQ-8C air vehicle upgrade will provide longer endurance, range and
greater payload capability than the MQ-8B, which is currently operating aboard
USS Samuel B. Roberts.
The MQ-8C is a larger air vehicle, has a range of 150 nautical miles and a
payload capacity of more than 700 pounds.
"It is a big accomplishment for the integrated government and industry team
to fly this air vehicle for the first time," said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire
Scout program manager at Patuxent River, Md. "MQ-8C will require fewer aircraft
[than the MQ-8B] to operate at maximum performance and will meet the U.S. Africa
and Special Operation Commands urgent needs requirement."
The MQ-8Cs will conduct initial shipboard testing on Guided Missile
Destroyers (DDG)-class ships but the program is looking into supporting Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS) missions. The Navy will continue to use the MQ-8B as it phases
in the MQ-8C. Lessons learned from MQ-8B have been applied to MQ-8C variant,
Initial operating capability for the MQ-8C is planned for 2016, with a
potential for early deployment in 2014.