Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy recently planned a 10-hour, 150 nautical mile flight for the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
The system stayed in the air for 11 hours with more than an hour of fuel in reserve—a new flight record set by a drone designed to provide persistent reconnaissance, situational awareness and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces, according to a news release.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout left from the Naval Base in Ventura County, Point Mugu, according to the release. The long-range, long-endurance flight was part of a series of capability based tests the Navy is using to validate their concept of operations and previously tested performance parameters.
“Endurance flights provide a full evaluation of the MQ-8C Fire Scout systems,” said Capt. Jeff Dodge, program manager, Fire Scout, Naval Air Systems Command, according to the release. “We can better understand the capability of the system and look at crew tasks and interactions in a controlled environment. This will allow us to adjust operational procedures to maximize the system’s effectiveness.”
The MQ-8C Fire Scout completed the development flight test program earlier this year, according to the release, with operational assessment planned for later this year. So far the unmanned helicopter has 513 flight hours and has flown 353 sorties.
“Today’s MQ-8C Fire Scout performance matches our model exactly. With adjustments, our production aircraft will have 12 hours of total endurance on a standard day. This prolonged endurance gives the Navy’s commanders a tremendous operational advantage,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president, medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman, according to the release. “Increased time-on-station and fewer launch and recovery cycles better enables the Navy’s diverse missions.”
For more information on the MQ-8C Fire Scout, visit: http://bit.ly/16K1F4m