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MQ-8B Fire Scout completa seconda fase di prove di volo


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Il VTUAV (Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) MQ-8B Fire Scout di Northrop Grumman ha completato la seconda fase di test di volo autonomo a bordo della fregata USS McInerney. La chiusura di questa campagna di prove, che segue quella avvenuta a bordo della LPD USS Nashville, avvicina il programma alla fase di Operational Evaluation (OpEval) e successivamente allo schieramento operativo sulle navi della flotta della US Navy (in particolare sulle LCS). Il periodo di test è servito a collaudare gli atterraggi automatici, lo UAV Common Auto Recovery System (UCARS), tutti i sistemi di controllo a bordo della nave e a espandere l’inviluppo di volo della macchina.

 

L’MQ-8B è una piattaforma di comunicazione, sorveglianza e acquisizione obiettivi (RSTA - Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition) in grado di interfacciarsi con l’architettura C4I e costituire un nodo di comunicazione in ambiente net-centrico. All’occorrenza potrà essere equipaggiato con armi di precisione ed eseguire una stima dei danni inflitti in battaglia. L’elettronica standard sarà costituita dal Tactical Control System (TCS), dal Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL), sistemi di comunicazione protetta, sensori elettro-ottici e infrarossi e illuminatore laser per la designazione e l’inseguimento dei bersagli.

 

Northrop Grumman ha firmato con la US Navy anche il contratto di supporto logistico per la manutenzione e i periodici upgrade del velivolo, i cui sistemi continueranno la fase di collaudo a bordo delle navi della marina, come parte del piano di riduzione del rischio legato alla sua integreazione a bordo delle littoral combat ship.

 

http://www.difesanews.it/archives/mq-8b-fi...i-prove-di-volo

 

 

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www.aviationweek.com

 

The U.S. Navy’s developmental MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned rotorcraft has made its first series of landings on the Frigate McInerney.

 

The tests, which wrapped up April 28, included four flights from the ship over three days, Capt. Tim Dunigan, the Navy’s Fire Scout program director, said May 4 during a press briefing at the annual Navy League Sea, Air and Space conference in Washington. “The aircraft is doing everything we want it to do,” he said.

 

The tests took place off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. A series of flight-tests in Chesapeake Bay in February allowed the 3,150-pound gross-takeoff-weight aircraft to hover close to the ship and execute approaches. Winds exceeded the allowance for landing at that time.

 

For this recent set of trials, painted markings took the place of the metal grid that will serve as the landing pad for Fire Scout.

 

The McInerney tests are taking place in advance of more trials slated for the Fire Scout’s future host platform, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Fire Scout is expected to begin shipboard tests on the LCS-1, the Freedom, made by Lockheed Martin/Marinette Marine, by the second quarter of 2010, Dunigan said.

 

A schedule isn’t yet firm for tests on the first General Dynamics LCS, Dunigan said.

 

This fall, Fire Scout will deploy on the McInerney to support counternarcotics operations in U.S. Southern Command.

 

Derived from the commercial Schweitzer 333, the four-bladed Fire Scout carries an electro-optical/infrared sensor, laser pointer and range finder. The aircraft is slated to get a radar, but Dunigan says the Navy hasn’t yet selected which model. Up to three Fire Scouts are expected to fit in each slot designated for an H-60 onboard the LCS.

 

The aircraft is designed to support anti-surface warfare and minehunting missions handled by this new ship class. A communications relay could follow to support shifting data to and from the H-60.

 

Fire Scout’s operational range is about 110 nautical miles from the ship, with an endurance of about eight hours.

 

The Navy has two fully instrumented development test models in service. The total buy for the Navy is expected to be 168 aircraft. The Army also is buying the rotorcraft for its Future Combat Systems program, and Northrop Grumman says there is international interest as well.

 

Initial operational capability for the system is expected in 2011. Flyaway cost for the aircraft is about $7 million, Dunigan says.

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Northrop To Test-fly Army Fire Scout Soon

 

 

By Bettina H. Chavanne aviatonweek.com

 

 

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Northrop Grumman may be hoping to convince the U.S. Army to field its Fire Scout vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle earlier than scheduled by test-flying the unmanned helicopter in Yuma, Ariz., in June.

 

The Fire Scout, called an XM157 Class IV UAV by the Army, is part of the land service’s embattled Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The Army does not plan to test fly the XM157 until 2011 under the official FCS timeline. But Northrop Grumman, whose Fire Scout is already being test-flown for the Navy, is taking its company-owned aircraft, called the White Tail, to Yuma next month for tests of its own.

 

“We wanted to demonstrate that we have the ability to operate in that [Army One ground control system] architecture,” said Mike Howell, Northrop Grumman’s director of business development for Fire Scout. The company will fly the aircraft using its own “universal” ground control station, which Howell said emulates the Army One system and incorporates some principles from the Navy’s Tactical Control System, or TCS.

 

For now, it’s a Raytheon system driving the Fire Scout in ship tests, but Northrop is keeping its eye out for opportunities. Former Pentagon acquisitions chief John Young advocated for more commonality among ground control systems, and he issued an acquisition decision memorandum in February directing the services to move in that direction (Aerospace DAILY, March 10).

 

The Army’s XM157 will have an ASTAMIDS payload, a “wholly unique” feature, according to Charles Catterall, the Army’s lead engineer for the Class IV vehicle. ASTAMIDS, or Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System, will be paired with a STARLite search and rescue sensor in a dual-payload configuration. “No other system, manned or unmanned, has been designated to use [the ASTAMIDS] payload,” Caterrall said.

 

Meanwhile, the Navy is now focusing its MQ-8B Fire Scout program on preparing for ship-based deployment this fall to support counternarcotics efforts, likely in the Caribbean area, after conducting a series of successful landing tests with the unmanned rotorcraft this spring on the USS McInerney (FFG-8).

 

The tests, which wrapped up April 28, included four flights from the frigate over three days, says Capt. Tim Dunigan, the Navy’s Fire Scout program director. “The aircraft is doing everything we want it to do,” he said.

 

The tests took place off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. A series of flight-tests in the Chesapeake Bay in February allowed the 3,150-pound gross-takeoff-weight aircraft to hover close to the ship and execute approaches. Winds and bad weather exceeded the allowance for landing at that time.

 

The McInerney tests are taking place in advance of more trials slated for the Fire Scout’s future host platform, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Fire Scout is expected to begin shipboard tests on the LCS-1, the Freedom, made by Lockheed Martin/Marinette Marine, by the second quarter of 2010, Dunigan said.

 

A schedule is not yet firm for tests on the first General Dynamics LCS, Dunigan said.

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