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The Navy Is Testing This Unmanned Helicopter To Make Its Newest Ships More Lethal
On June 29, U.S. Navy crews completed the first comprehensive initial operational test and evaluation of the MQ-8C Fire Scout, an unmanned helicopter the Navy hopes will increase the lethality of the service's new littoral combat ships.
The aircraft carried out several mission scenarios from the USS Coronado, an LCS commissioned in 2014. The Coronado's crew and members of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 performed simulated engagements in order to review the MQ-8C's target-identification, intelligence-gathering, and surface-warfare abilities.
The testing showed "cohesion between the surface and aviation platforms," the Navy said in a release published on July 9.
"The results, lessons learned, and recommendations reported on following this underway test period are absolutely invaluable to the future of the MQ-8C Fire Scout's mission effectiveness and suitability to perform that mission," Lt. Cmdr. Seth Ervin, leader of the Air Test and Evaluation detachment on the Coronado, said in the release.
A MQ-8C Fire Scout is chained to the flight deck of the Independence variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).U.S. Navy/Ens. Jalen Robinson
The testing also looked for ways to simultaneously operate both the Fire Scout and a MH-60S Seahawk manned helicopter onboard an LCS, finding that such operations were possible but required extensive planning and coordination.
"It has been challenging and rewarding to be one of the first maintainers afforded the opportunity to take both aircraft aboard the ship. Working together, we made the overall product more functional and efficient for the fleet," Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class Salvatore Greene, a member of the testing squadron, said in the release.
The Coronado previously hosted tests of the smaller MQ-8B, which has been used in Afghanistan to detect improvised explosive devices.
The larger MQ-8C, which is based on the Bell 407 manned helicopter, retains the hardware and software for the smaller model but has twice the range and can carry a payload three times bigger. The MQ-8C can also fly for 11.5 hours because the redesign for the Fire Scout program fitted the Bell 407's passenger and cargo spaces with fuel tanks, according to Jane's 360.
The MQ-8B was to be equipped with a multimode maritime radar and the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, consisting of modified 70 mm Hydra rockets fitted with a guidance system. The MQ-8B was limited to three tube launchers, but Capt. Jeff Dodge, the Navy's Fire Scout program manager, told USNI News the service was looking to put seven tubes on the MQ-8C.
An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter conducts underway landing operations with the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison
Limited space aboard the LCS complicates decisions about arming the Fire Scout. The LCS has one magazine that would store all weapons used by aircraft and the ship's own weapon systems.
Dodge said in April that the Navy was still deciding how to fit Fire Scout armaments in with the LCS's own weapons. Those complicating factors had effectively put a hold on efforts to arm the MQ-8C until 2023, Dodge said at the time.
The MQ-8C can land and take off autonomously from any aviation-capable ship and can carry out anti-submarine, anti-surface, mine warfare, and search-and-rescue operations, according to Northrop Grumman.
Northrop has also touted the MQ-8C as a range-extender, adding up to 300 miles by providing targeting data for the LCS's over-the-horizon surface missile. The company plans to upgrade the MQ-8C with a new radar and datalink that allow it to send air-to-air and surface targeting information to surface ships.
An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter conducts underway operations with an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4)U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison
The MQ-8C did its first ship-based flight in December 2014 on the USS Jason Dunham, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. It also did underway-testing aboard the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery in April 2017, when it took its first flight from an LCS.
Initial operational testing and evaluation for the MQ-8C began on April 16. Pierside testing focused on maintenance and cyber capabilities will continue on the Coronado through mid-July, the Navy said.
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Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.