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Navy Tests Maritime Expeditionary Use of Northrop-Built Autonomous Helicopter

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The U.S. Navy tested the possibility of deploying a Northrop Grumman-built autonomous helicopter from a ship to land to support maritime expeditionary operations at a recent joint service training.

An MQ-8C Fire Scout took part in the demonstration of the Navy’s Expeditionary Advance Base Operations concept during the Resolute Hunter exercise, the company said Wednesday.

Navy personnel performed a ship-based departure simulation with the unmanned vehicle from a naval base in Point Mugu, California, and handed the system off to a portable ground control station located on San Clemente Island.

“We are supporting MQ-8C deployments on littoral combat ships while assisting the Navy with Fire Scout mission expansion efforts to include operations from other surface ships and shore-based sites,” said Lance Eischeid, director of Northrop’s Fire Scout program.

Naval Air Systems Command said the Fire Scout platform is currently operating with the Independence-variant USS Jackson littoral combat ship.

The service plans to deploy the helicopter aboard other LCS units and Constellation-class guided-missile frigates as well as to operate the autonomous vehicle from shore sites as part of the EABO strategy.