US Navy personnel have trained on the newly acquired MQ-8C Fire Scout trainer aircraft using a new custom-built maintenance trainer.

The first MQ-8C Fire Scout pilot course at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) in Norfolk, Virginia, concluded on 29 August.

Instructors used either a Composite Maintenance Trainer (CMT) or an Avionics Maintenance Trainer (AMT) to teach aviation professionals, including electrician’s mates, electronics technicians, machinist’s mates, and structural mechanics.

The new systems are used for training on the latest version of the Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

Known as MQ-8C Airframes and Power Plants Organizational Maintenance Course, the eight-week ‘C’ School hands-on training course teaches maintenance at the squadron level.

The Fire Scout CMT is used in the training course to deliver hands-on training to students on actual tasks.

CNATTU Norfolk commanding officer commander Sudduth said: “CNATTU Norfolk is proud to provide the highest calibre of training to our sailors.

“The new Fire Scout trainers will enable us to stay at the forefront of naval aviation training and ensure that our sailors arrive in the fleet with the tools they need to work on this cutting-edge technology.”

The MQ-8C Fire Scout, which is an advanced version of the MQ-8B, achieved initial operational capability in June this year.

The unmanned helicopter’s airframe is based on the Bell 407. The MQ-8C can be used for reconnaissance, situational awareness, detailed targeting support, and aerial fire support.

MQ-8C instructor Destinee Riesing said: “We specifically designed this course to be laboratory intensive.

“Our new CMT is equipped to support that goal. Out of the 290 hours in the course, we only spend 60 in the classroom. This allows our students to receive critical, hands-on experience and as instructors, allows us to return to our roots turning wrenches.”

This month, instructors and students will embark on an eight-week MQ-8C Avionics Organizational Maintenance Course. During the course, instructors will use the AMT trainer.