The US Navy and Northrop Grumman Corporation completed a successful land-based operational assessment (OA) with the unmanned, autonomous helicopter MQ-8C Fire Scout, at Naval Base Ventura County, California, USA, on November 20. The OA demonstrated the endurance and sensor integration capabilities on the new MQ-8C airframe.
The Fire Scout collected real-time data points during OA flights to validate system performance parameters and assess risk to future operational testing. The Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-1 performed all of the flights over three weeks culminating in 83.4 hours of flight and 72 data points.
MQ-8C sensors and systems were tested at different altitudes and ranges to validate operational effectiveness. Successful integration of an improved ice detector system was also validated during OA with an alert to the test team of icing during a flight. This system allowed for necessary altitude corrections by descending the helicopter until the indication cleared so that the mission could resume its target detection runs.
MQ-8C Fire Scout completed the developmental flight tests program earlier this year and now the program will prepare for milestone ‘C’ next year. The MQ-8C Fire Scout has accumulated over 730 flight hours and flown 353 sorties.
December 10, 2015