Northrop Grumman and the US Navy have successfully demonstrated endurance capabilities with the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Conducted from Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, the long-range, long-endurance flight saw the helicopter covering 150nm within 11 hours.
The flight was part of a series of capability based tests used by the navy to assess its concept of operations and previously tested performance parameters.
Naval Air Systems Command Fire Scout programme manager captain Jeff Dodge said: "Endurance flights provide a full evaluation of the MQ-8C Fire Scout systems.
"We can better understand the capability of the system and look at crew tasks and interactions in a controlled environment. This will allow us to adjust operational procedures to maximise the system’s effectiveness."
The MQ-8C is a vertical take-off and landing UAV, which is an upgraded version of the existing MQ-8B Fire Scout. It aims to provide navy ship commanders with improved range of up to 30% and endurance capabilities.
Capable of performing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions for the US Navy, the system has so far flown 327 flights and logged more than 450 hours since its first flight on 31 October 2013.
With a range of 150nm and a payload capacity of more than 700lb, initial operating capability for the MQ-8C is planned for 2016.
In May, the MQ-8C Fire Scout successfully conducted its final developmental test flight.
Image: Initial operating capability for the MQ-8C is planned for 2016. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.