Unmanned Helicopter Completes First Missions on US Navy Destroyer

US Navy MQ-8C Fire Scout landing 1 photo
Photo: Northrop Grumman
Piloting a helicopter requires an immense mental effort along with perfect hands and feet coordination which could seem next to impossible trying it from a remote location other than the cockpit. Add in the fact you need to land it on a moving vehicle like a Navy destroyer and you’ll walk out immediately.
But the technology is here to prove us wrong again as the MQ-8C Fire Scout did dozens of takeoffs and landings on the USS Jason Dunham just off the Virginia coast recently.

After testing all the systems on land at Point Mugu, California, the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter managed to perform 22 takeoffs and 22 precise landings on the ship while being controlled from the watercraft.

"The MQ-8C Fire Scout's flights from the USS Dunham represent a significant Navy milestone. This is the first sea-based flight of the MQ-8C and the first time an unmanned helicopter has operated from a destroyer," said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command. "The extended capabilities will offer the Navy a dynamic, multipurpose unmanned helicopter with increased endurance, allowing for our ship commanders and pilots to have a longer on station presence."

The US Navy will boast with 28 of these at first, each offering a range of 170 miles (280 km) and a loading capacity of 701 lb (318 kg). The unmanned “full-scale drones” will be used for resupplying missions, support and other dangerous reconnaissance missions where human life needs to be spared.

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