Military

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout makes first destroyer flight

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire S...
The MQ-8C Fire Scout hovering over the flight deck of USS Jason Dunham (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
The MQ-8C Fire Scout hovering over the flight deck of USS Jason Dunham (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
View 2 Images
The MQ-8C Fire Scout hovering over the flight deck of USS Jason Dunham (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
1/2
The MQ-8C Fire Scout hovering over the flight deck of USS Jason Dunham (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
The MQ-8C Fire Scout on the deck of USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
2/2
The MQ-8C Fire Scout on the deck of USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

A helicopter landing on the flightdeck of a destroyer is hardly news – unless it's the US Navy's latest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout became the first unmanned helicopter to operate from a US destroyer on December 16. Under guidance of the ship's ground control station, the MQ-8C made 22 takeoffs and 22 precision landings on the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) off the coast of Virginia.

The MQ-8C has already completed a year of land-based testing since its first flight from Naval Base Ventura County in California on October 31, 2013. Based on the Bell 407 airframe, the MQ-8C uses an improved version of the autonomous avionics from the smaller MQ-8B, and is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C47E.

Designed as a dynamic, multi-purpose unmanned helicopter, the Navy has 28 on order. When delivered, each will have a range of 150 nmi (170 mi, 280 km) an endurance of 12 hours, and will be able to carry a 318 kg (701 lb). The helicopter is intended for unmanned resupply missions, support for special forces, and other missions requiring a longer on-station presence.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout on the deck of USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) (Photo: Northrop Grumman)
The MQ-8C Fire Scout on the deck of USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

"These dynamic interface tests are an essential part in clearing the operational envelope of the system and are proving the system's ability to operate off any air-capable ship," says George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace System. "We are on track to validate all of the critical performance parameters of this Navy asset and ready the system for deployment and operational use."

The video below shows the MQ-8C undergoing sea trials.

Source: Northrop Grumman via Defensetech.

MQ-8C Fire Scout Takes First Flight on USS Jason Dunham

1 comment
Griffin
Not so. The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter), featuring the Boeing T-50 Jet Turbine, first flew in 1959 and was used extensively aboard destroyers and other USN ships. It was one of the most successful helicopter,jet turbine or drone programs ever created so far. Some are STILL in active-duty doing things like towing targets. Shoot, the Bell 206 (that this is based on) first flew in 1962!