Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Admiral: Fire Scout a game-changer

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - During the course of one day last month, the Navy's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter operated in four different locations across the United States and took off for the first time from a Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom. The Navy and industry partner Northrop Grumman tested the aircraft at Webster Field, Md., Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., aboard the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., and USS Freedom (LCS-1) at the sea range in Point Mugu, Calif. "Flying in four locations in one day, off two classes of ships … marks a major milestone for our program and for naval aviation,” said Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. He said it "sets the stage for the introduction of a game-changing capability to our warfighters." Fire Scout has surpassed more than 1,000 flight hours since the test program began in December 2006. (Source: NAVAIR, 12/01/10) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., builds a version of the LCS.