Fire Scout unmanned helicopter training facility opened by Navy in FloridaNews
July 12, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Northrop Grumman officials opened a new Fire Scout unmanned helicopter training facility for operators that has enhanced flight simulators, classroom instruction, and hands-on aircraft maintenance. It is located at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.
New flight simulators were placed in the facility to enhance the quality of training, integrating lessons learned during the MQ-8B Fire Scout's land- and sea-based deployments. Typically the training will last about six weeks because maintainers and pilots have already gained technical training on manned helicopters such as the NAvy SH-60 Seahawk.
The new facility bridges a critical gap in simulator availability, says Capt. Doug Ten Hoopen, commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. " Atlantic Fleet operators' immediate demand for simulation and training will be met via this facility – especially as the Fire Scout program matures and becomes self-sustainable when the new Fire Scout Fleet Replacement Squadron officially stands up.
The Fire Scout system enables ship- and land-based commanders to have Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, via on-board sensors that capture full-motion video, identify the targets and then distribute the data in real time to different users.
All four Fire Scout at-sea deployments started from nearby Naval Station Mayport. The most recent system deployed was last month on board the USS Klakring (FFG 42).
A team made up of Northrop Grumman personnel and Navy sailors and has been in Afghanistan since last spring, accruing more than 2,800 flight hours and directly supporting ground commanders with full-motion video surveillance. The improved capability ground commanders to see potential threats caused the mission to be extended.