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FIRE SCOUT Completes Comprehensive Operational Test

Maintenance and Cyber Testing Will Continue Through mid-July

At the end of June the USS CORONADO and elements of Air Test &Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) completed the first comprehensive Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for the MQ-8C FIRE SCOUT. Results from this IOT&E will inform decision-makers on how best to integrate the Navy’s newest unmanned helicopter with littoral combatships (LCS) and other platforms.

The MQ-8C performed several mission scenarios aboard CORONADO – operations that are an important milestone for the LCS and FIRE SCOUT programmes and that demonstrated cohesion between the surface and aviation platforms. CORONADO and VX-1 conducted simulated engagements to evaluate the role of the UAS in target identification, intelligence gathering and surface warfare operations. The testing also focused on developing practices for simultaneously operating and maintaining both the MQ-8C and the MH-60S SEAHAWK. Results confirmed that while it requires extensive planning and coordination across the ship,simultaneous operations can be conducted.

The results, lessons learned, and recommendations reported on following this underway test period are absolutely invaluable to the future of the MQ-8C FIRE SCOUT’s mission effectiveness and suitability to perform that mission,” commented the lead for the VX-1 detachment aboard CORONADO, Lt.-Cdr. Seth Ervin.

The chance to contribute to technological and tactical improvements within the LCS community creates a notable opportunity for CORONADO’s experienced crew. “My crew is excited to build upon their past experiences operating with FIRE SCOUT and continue to improve our proficiency as a war-fighting team,” said CORONADO’s commanding officer, Cdr. Lawrence Repass.

The first ship-based flight of the MQ-8C FIRE SCOUT occurred aboard USS JASON DUNHAM in December 2014, and previous underway testing was also conducted with USS MONTGOMERY in April 2017. Pierside testing will continue onboard CORONADO throughout mid-July, with a focus on maintenance and cyber.

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