Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Autonomous Fire Scout UAV Lands On Ship

Atlantic Ocean - A RQ-8A Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System prepares to land aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13). This is the first autonomous landing of the Fire Scout aboard a Navy vessel at sea. With an on-station endurance of over four hours, the Fire Scout system is capable of continuous operations, providing coverage at 110 nautical miles from the launch site. Utilizing a baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser rangefinder /designator, Fire Scout can find and identify tactical targets, track and designate targets, accurately provide targeting data to strike platforms, employ precision weapons, and perform battle damage assessment. U.S. Navy photo by Kurt Lengfield.
by Staff Writers
Patuxent River MD (SPX) Jan 25, 2006
The Navy's Unmanned Aerial System program office, and the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) Program completed a major developmental milestone as the VTUAV system completed nine autonomous landings aboard USS Nashville (LPD 13). One air vehicle performed the initial tests with three landings Jan. 16, and a second air vehicle was launched Jan. 17 to complete the testing.

This is the first time a major defense autonomous UAV acquisition program has completed a landing aboard a fleet vessel.

On day one of the testing at 11:51 a.m., the green light was established as all systems were ┐go┐ on land and at sea. Under the command of the shore-based ground control station (GCS), the RQ-8A Fire Scout lifted off from the shore and began flying its autonomous route to the ship. The shore-based GCS handed off control to the shipboard GCS, and after establishing telemetry data, a series of close approaches to the ship were conducted. In accordance with the test plan script, the Fire Scout came aboard Nashville for the first autonomous landing at 2:42 p.m.

Two other landings were conducted to gather further data before the aircraft was returned to shore control.

"This event has provided much-needed data for how autonomous systems will operate in the future." said Capt. Paul Morgan, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program manager. "This is the bedrock of future autonomous systems, of which VTUAV is the forerunner. We gather data every time this system flies, and are on the downward slope of the learning curve. This is an exciting time."

In this test operation, the VTUAV system consisted of one air vehicle, one shore-based GCS, one ship-based GCS, the Tactical Control System software, and an Unmanned Common Automatic Recovery System (UCARS) precision landing system, plus associated test related telemetry equipment. In its fleet version, the system will add a Tactical Common Data Link and a secure landing grid system.

The air vehicle used for this event was a developmental article from a previous acquisition phase, an RQ-8A. The VTUAV program is currently producing MQ-8B variants, with more capability for payloads and performance.

The test was designed to exercise those areas of the system that are maturing and provide feedback into the design loop as the baseline software build for the MQ-8B is finalized.

"While this is a great event for the UAS community, it is on schedule for the VTUAV program┐ said Cmdr. Rob Murphy, VTUAV team lead. "In the past, systems had been treating the ship as a graduation exercise, and we recognized the need for early data collection and input. We have already gathered a lot of data as to vehicle and system command performance, plus a lot of lessons learned while operating in the shipboard environment."

The VTUAV system plans further shipboard tests this year in the May/June timeframe, as funding allows. The production MQ-8B airframe is planning a first flight for August. Fire Scout initial operational capability is planned for FY08.

Related Links

Oshkosh Unveils Next Gen Unmanned Defense Logistics Vehicle
Oshkosh WI (SPX) Jan 24, 2006
Oshkosh Truck has announced that it has unveiled an unmanned version of its Palletized Load System (PLS) vehicle at the U.S. Army Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Component Technology Demonstrations in Yuma, Ariz.

  • OutsideView: How Big Is The Defense Budget
  • China's Africa Expansion
  • US Army Can Surge Troops To Meet Any Crisis
  • China Unveils New 'Win-Win' Partnership With Africa

  • Pakistan PM Warns Against Arms Race In Asia
  • EU Sceptical Iran Would Cut Off Oil Supplies
  • Japan Fears Missile Data Leak To NKorea
  • US Urges SKorea To Join Crackdown On NKorea

  • Northrop Grumman Wins Contract For Target And Space-Launch Missile Work
  • LockMart/Netfires Tests Loitering Attack Missile Warhead
  • LockMart Conducts Three Tests Of The GMLRS Unitary Rocket
  • Raytheon Team For APKWS II Demonstrates Semi-Active Laser Sensor Dome Survivability

  • General Dynamics Awarded Contract For TRIDENT Ballistic Missile System
  • Kinetic Energy Interceptor Team Perform Static Test-Fire Of Stage 2 Rocket Motor
  • US Japan To Integrate BMD IT Networks
  • BMD Focus: The Missiles Of Taiwan

  • Boeing Introduces New 737 Signals Intelligence Aircraft
  • Boeing Awarded Canadian CF-18 Avionics Upgrade
  • Wedgetail Aircraft Delivered To Boeing Australia
  • US Air Force Rates F-22A Raptor "Mission Capable"

  • Autonomous Fire Scout UAV Lands On Ship
  • Oshkosh Unveils Next Gen Unmanned Defense Logistics Vehicle
  • USAF Take Delivery Of First Production Global Hawks
  • Northrop Grumman's Navy Fire Scout Gets Its Sea Legs

  • Iraqi Women Seek Leadership Positions
  • Missile Brought Down US Chopper In Iraq
  • Another Grim Week In Iraq
  • US Looks For Pattern In Iraq Helicopter Losses

  • C & C Technologies Builds Its Third AUV
  • Harris Systems Selected To Provide Next-Gen Cryptography For The UK MoD
  • Agreement On Second British-French Aircraft Carrier
  • Rolls-Royce Wins $65M V-22 Engine Contracts

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement