The U.S. Navy’s only rotary wing unmanned aircraft, MQ-8B Fire Scout, returned from a six-month deployment aboard USS McInerney (FFG-8) to Naval Air Station Mayport, Fla. April 15.

The Fire Scout has proven its unprecedented situational awareness and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability while deployed with 4th Fleet to assist in counter-narcotics operations, according to Capt. Tim Dunigan, Fire Scout Program Manager in Patuxent River.

“The major objective of this deployment was to demonstrate to the user community the potential for Fire Scout to provide the tactical commander with near time ISR data and to learn lessons for fielding the aircraft,“ said Dunigan. “Based on reports from the deployment, the Fire Scout will be a huge asset for future operational missions.”

A team from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 42 Detachment 7, the Navy Fire Scout Program Office, and Northrop Grumman Corporation operated and maintained the aircraft. The Fire Scout successfully completed 24 flights, which provided the team an opportunity to assess the design robustness of the system in the highly corrosive at-sea environment.

Personnel aboard the McInerney witnessed the Fire Scout’s capabilities first hand when the aircraft assisted in the ship’s first ever drug interdiction. The frigate launched one of its two embarked Fire Scout’s to test different functions and settings when it acquired a suspected narcotics “go-fast” vessel using the aircraft’s Forward Looking Infrared Systems BRITE Star II electro-optical/infrared sensor.

Source: DefPro

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The U.S. Navy’s only rotary wing unmanned aircraft, MQ-8B Fire Scout, returned from a…