The Navy has conducted the first testing of the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter aboard a trimaran variant of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said.
Called “dynamic interface testing,” the exercises outlined the concept of operations for the aircraft on the ship, including crew training and verification and expansion of the launching and landing envelopes, NAVSEA said.
The testing took place on the USS Coronado (LCS-4), the second of the trimaran variants that are being built by Austal USA.
Fire Scouts deployed on LCSs will support all three swappable mission modules the Navy is developing for the LCS class. The Fire Scouts will engage in mine detection and mine countermeasures, and detect, classify, and identification missions with the surface warfare and anti-submarine mission packages, said Capt. Tom Anderson, the program manager for LCS.
The MQ-8Bs will be on the LCS along with the larger, manned MH-60 helicopter. Northrop Grumman [NOC] is the prime contractor for the Fire Scout program.
The Navy is also developing a larger version of the Fire Scout, known as the MQ-8C–based on Bell Helicopter’s [TXT] 407 airframe–with prime contractor Northrop Grumman.
The dynamic interface testing of the MQ-8B on the mono-hull variant took place aboard the USS Freedom (LCS-1) earlier in the program. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for that version of the ship.