The US Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout uncrewed aerial system (UAS) has participated in a new mine countermeasure (MCM) prototype technology demonstration.

It was conducted at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida in May this year.

This demonstration aimed to provide a new capability to the warfighters to rapidly detect and respond against various threats.

The test also helped in gathering the performance data of the MQ-8C UAS and the single-system multi-mission airborne mine detection (SMAMD) system to support future MCM integration efforts.

Fire Scout programme director captain Thomas Lansley said: “The team successfully demonstrated that the prototype SMAMD System effectively operates as designed aboard the MQ-8C Fire Scout uncrewed helicopter in relevant real-world environments.”

The operations were conducted from the US Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC).

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During the operations, the team used drifting, tethered and moored mines throughout the beach zone and in the deep waters, to collect data day and night, in different weather conditions and across all water depths.

The test validated the high performance of MQ-8C Fire Scout, as it easily handled the dual podded system. It was the first and the heaviest MCM capability carried by an MQ-8C UAS.

Developed by BAE Systems, the SMAMD technology is part of a Future Naval Capability (FNC) programme, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The SMAMD system is an airborne optical sensor suite, capable of detecting and localising mines and obstacles on land and at sea, in a single pass.

This technology provides low false-alarm rate and real-time detection, which is shared via data link.

MQ-8C Fire Scout equipped with a new mine countermeasure (MCM) prototype technology gathers performance data. Credit: U.S. Navy/Naval Air Systems Command.