ZACH ROSENBERG WASHINGTON DC
After two incidents resulting in crashes, Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout operations are on an ‘operational pause’ for the indefinite future. One aircraft was damaged on 30 March after landing in the ocean. The second aircraft crashed in Afghanistan on 6 April, according to an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) press release.
The 30 March incident occurred at night off the coast of West Africa, when the aircraft was unable to lock on to the automated recovery beacon. Despite several attempted approaches, the aircraft was unable to pick up the signal.
“After multiple approaches and exhaustive troubleshooting at established minimum fuel limits, the aircraft was positioned a safe distance from the ship and terminated flight,” says Navair, the navy’s aircraft operations division. “Subsequently, USS Simpson performed a night time recovery of the aircraft which remained relatively intact.”