The U.S. Navy is fielding an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to support squadron operations ahead of its deployment with a littoral combat ship (LCS) next year.
The Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 recently received the MQ-8C variant of the Northrop Grumman-built unmanned aircraft intended to operate with LCS for surface warfare missions, USNI News reported Monday.
Cmdr. Matthew Wright, commanding officer of HSC-22, told the publication that the squadron’s maintainers are preparing for operations involving MQ-8C, which is larger than its MQ-8B predecessor.
He noted that in addition to the Fire Scout aircraft, HSC-22 is also looking to expand its fleet of H-60 manned helicopters.
“We’re actually going to actually gain a few manned aircraft, since we’re supporting a lot more LCS detachments,” said Wright. “We’ve gained some more personnel, and we just train them all up.”
HSC-22 will undergo safe-for-flight certification for MQ-8C before the aircraft is sent to Wallops Island, Virginia, to undergo land-based activities and other predeployment procedures.