The US Navy’s uncrewed helicopter MQ-8C Fire Scout has completed its return to flight operations aboard Independence-class littoral combat ship, USS Jackson (LCS 6).

The return to flight operations were conducted in the Philippine Sea on 20 April. It required coordination between the surface and the aviation entities.

The MQ-8C uncrewed helicopter is assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, also called the Wildcards.

A part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, LCS 6 is on a rotational deployment to support the security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The flights at sea mark the end of the aircraft’s operational testing, which allowed MQ-8C to continue routine flights on the littoral combat ships (LCS) deployed in the region.

With the completion, the helicopter can now operate with ships and airborne assets as per the operational requirement.

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By GlobalData

HSC-23 head lieutenant commander Richard Mooney said: “It’s great to be flying the MQ-8C again, especially for an extended period with our MH-60S.

“Coordinated manned-unmanned operations like these provide numerous advantages to our surface combatants.”

HSC 21, or Blackjacks, also recently completed the return to flight operations for the MQ-8B Fire Scout variant.

The HSC 21 variant is assigned to USS Charleston (LCS 18) and USS Tulsa (LCS 16), deployed in the US 7th Fleet area of operations.

The uncrewed MQ-8B and C Fire Scout helicopter variants are designed as land-based and ship-based autonomous systems.