Friday, May 3, 2013

Hybrid squadron launched

SAN DIEGO -- The Navy Thursday introduced its first squadron combining manned and unmanned helicopters. Helicopter Maritime Strike 35, "the Magicians," with 140 sailors, will combined eight manned MH-60R Seahawks with 10 unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scouts and will work off coastal combat ships. The Navy expects the squadron to make its first deployment in early 2014 on the littoral combat ship Fort Worth, with two Fire Scouts and one Seahawk. Pilots will fly the drones from a control room inside the ship or even on shore. The Fire Scouts will reside at the Rancho Bernardo campus of Northrop Grumman, said the squadron's commanding officer. Fire Scouts can stay aloft at least eight hours, compared to the Seahawk's 3.3 hours. The Navy has been testing the Fire Scout since 2007 and deploying it since 2009, using it for counter-narcotics operations and in Afghanistan. (Source: Reuters, UT-San Diego, 05/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., builds one version of the littoral combat ships. Previous