Northrop Grumman, July 15, 2008 - SAN DIEGO -- A cooperative effort between the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Corporation resulted in the first ever demonstration of an MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer. The demonstration took place aboard the USS Stethem, a DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, positioned at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
The demonstration marked the first appearance of a new production MQ-8B outside of the United States. Among the participants at Yokosuka were officers and crew from the USS Stethem, DDG 63, officers from Task Force 70 and Destroyer Squadron 15.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV was lifted onto the USS Stethem and maneuvered on the flight deck by the Stethem's crew. This demonstrated Fire Scout shipboard handling and continued to validate the requirement for the Fire Scout to operate from all U.S. Navy aviation-capable ships. This is consistent with the U.S. Navy announcing that they will conduct the Fire Scout Operational Evaluation aboard a FFG-7, Oliver Hazard Perry-class ship in 2009.
"The Fire Scout VTUAV demonstration is just another step towards signifying Fire Scout's ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship," said John Paterson, Northrop Grumman's international Fire Scout program manager. "It has been a pleasure to partner with the U.S. Navy to accomplish this significant event."
"We discussed the Fire Scout capabilities concept of operations and forward deployed operations from all air-capable surface combatants," said Captain Tim Dunigan, program manager of Navy and Marine Corps Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air Systems (PMA-266).
"Out here in Seventh Fleet, we're looking forward to new surveillance and reconnaissance platforms that answer a gap that we have with our surface ship assets. So, we look forward to the Fire Scout coming out here," said Captain Mark Montgomery, Commander DESRON 15.
Fire Scout is currently in advanced stages of testing at Webster Field, Patuxent River, Md., conducting envelope expansion, software validation, payload integration and data link testing. According to the current U.S. Navy schedule, the Fire Scout will reach Initial Operating Capability soon after OpEval in 2009.
Following the successful demonstration at U.S. Naval Base Yokosuka, the Fire Scout was placed at a U.S. Department of Defense site in Tokyo. This allowed Government of Japan representatives and Japanese industry officials to gain technical insight into the system.
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