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Unmanned, manned helicopters on intel-gathering missions

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have flown the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter with a manned Sea King aircraft to demonstrate their complementary intelligence-gathering capabilities.
By Richard Tomkins   |   June 13, 2014 at 4:08 PM   |   Comments

SAN DIEGO, June 13 (UPI) -- An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle was flown simultaneously with a Sea Hawk helicopter to demonstrate intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The test by the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman to demonstrate complementary capabilities was conducted from the USS Freedom Littoral Combat Ship off the coast of California.

"Utilizing the Fire Scout in operational maritime scenarios with manned aircraft will prove to be a unique asset to our fleet," said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager. "The sensors of the Fire Scout are providing complimentary situational awareness and precision targeting support for the MH-60R Sea Hawk and Littoral Combat Ships."

The MQ-8B is an autonomous helicopter for deployment from any aircraft-capable ship. It has a maximum speed of 115 knots, a combat radius of 110 miles and a flight endurance of five hours when fully loaded.

Fire Scout is currently on its eighth at-sea deployment to support surveillance and security missions.

"Fire Scout is giving our warfighters enhanced persistent situational awareness," said George Vardoulakis, vice president, medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "Fire Scout systems are providing critical information to the pilots of the MH-60R Sea Hawk and the sailors of the Littoral Combat Ship to ensure that they are protected from maritime threats."

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