The US Navy has completed the first initial operational test and evaluation for Northrop Grumman’s unmanned MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter.
The tests, which were conduced by the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) from the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4), involved several missions scenarios for the unmanned Fire Scout to test the “cohesion” between the surface and aviation platforms.
During the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), which was conducted off the coast of southern California, simulated engagements were conducted to evaluate the Fire Scout’s role in target identification, intelligence gathering and surface warfare operations.
The testing also focused on developing practices for simultaneously operating and maintaining both the MQ-8C Fire Scout and the MH-60S Seahawk. Results showed that simultaneous operations are possible, but with extensive planning and coordination across the ship.
“It has been challenging and rewarding to be one of the first maintainers afforded the opportunity to take both aircraft aboard the ship. Working together, we made the overall product more functional and efficient for the fleet,” said Salvatore Greene, a member of VX-1.
The first ship-based flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout was carried out from USS Jason Dunham in December 2014, and previous underway testing was also conducted with USS Montgomery in April 2017.
Pierside testing of the MQ-8C Fire Scout will continue onboard Coronado throughout mid-July with a focus on maintenance and cyber. Coronado is one of four designated LCS testing ships homeported in San Diego.