The MQ-8C Fire Scout, the U.S. Navy’s only ship-based autonomous helicopter program, passes the initial fit check aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD-23).

The test was held at Naval Base San Diego demonstrating the aircrafts’ suitability for the U.S. Marine Corps’ amphibious warfare mission, manufacturer Northrop Grumman said in a release.

MQ-8C Fire Scout, which has integrated the AN/ZPY-8 radar, is expected to reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in this new configuration this summer and begin replacing MQ-8B aircraft on upcoming deployments.

An MQ-8C aircraft crashed into the side of Littoral Combat Ship, Charleston soon after it took off from its deck, in April.

Another 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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