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.