MQ-8B unmanned helicopter @U.S. Navy

A U.S. Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout drone crashed into the side of Littoral Combat Ship, Charleston soon after it took off from its deck on Monday.

No one was injured, but the 31-foot-long MQ-8B Fire Scout drone fell into the sea and was not recovered, Scott D. Conn, Commander of the U.S. 3rd fleet said in a statement.

A video of the mishap was published by DVIDS, an operation supported by Defense Media Activity, a U.S. DoD field activity.

The incident took place around 3:40pm on April 26. It left a safety net on the ship damaged and struck the hull. Damage to the ship is being assessed, but appears limited to an area above the waterline. Charleston continues operations in the Western Pacific.

The cause of the mishap is under investigation.

The Fire Scout was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 based out of Naval Air Station North Island and was assigned to Charleston as part of its current mission.

An MQ-8C aircraft was damaged in a ground mishap on November 16, 2020. It was the second major mishap involving the new Charlie variant of the Fire Scout that month. The drone was damaged during testing of a lithium ion battery that involved taking the aircraft idling at Maryland’s Webster Field.

One of the largest reconnaissance and surveillance UAVs – Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout – built from a Bell 407 helicopter, is expected to be deployed by the Navy in this year.

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