US Navy’s Northrop-built MQ-8C Fire Scout completes sloped landing tests

MQ-8c (1)

The US Navy’s Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aircraft has successfully completed precision sloped landing tests at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, US.

The MQ-8C will now prepare for its at-sea testing.

US Naval Air Systems Command Fire Scout programme manager captain Patrick Smith said: “The sloped take-off and landing tests are designed to be as real as it gets to actually operating on a navy ship.

“The autonomous MQ-8C Fire Scout system is able to precisely track and understand the roll and pitch of the surface, which resembles at-sea conditions.”

The rigorous flight testing and validation of the aircraft will conclude in the actual take-off and landing on a navy frigate at-sea.

Capable of performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the US Navy, the unmanned helicopter has flown 219 flights and 287 hours since its first flight on 31 October 2013.

Northrop Grumman Medium Range Tactical Systems vice-president George Vardoulakis said: “The MQ-8C Fire Scout system is performing as predicted and as previously demonstrated during Fire-X testing back in 2011.

“These tests enable a validation of our autonomous system and clear the way for dynamic interface testing onboard the ship.”

The MQ-8C’s most recent tests included electromagnetic testing to ensure compatibility with ship-based emitters, as well as an initial phase of dynamic interface testing aimed at validating deck handling and communications networks.

The first ship-based series of flights for the Fire Scout will take place later this year.