US Navy MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle completes first day of flying

131031-N-SW486-022 Point MUGU, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2013) An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. The Navy’s newest variant of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its first day of flying Oct. 31 with two flights reaching 500 feet altitude. The MQ-8C air vehicle upgrade will provide longer endurance, range and greater payload capability than the MQ-8B. Initial operating capability for the MQ-8C is planned for 2016, with the potential for an early deployment in 2014. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman/Released)

Royal Navy signs £30m contract for Boeing ScanEagle reconnaissance drone

UK warships on operations will benefit from a surveillance craft capable of flying for 24 hours, under a £30m ($47m) contract to Boeing Defence UK Limited signed by the MOD.

ScanEagle UAV leaves its launcher. Crown Copyright 2013.

The ScanEagle will be launched from the deck of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships by day or night to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

ScanEagle UAV in flight. Crown Copyright 2013.

The ScanEagle is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Boeing subsidiary Insitu. In service with the US military since 2005, the ScanEagle is also operated by the Royal Navy, the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Canadian Army.

Crew: none on-board (unmanned aerial vehicle)
Length: 3.9 feet (1.19 meters) ()
Wingspan: 10.2 feet (3.1 meters) ()
Loaded weight: 39.7 lbs (18 kilograms) ()
Powerplant: 1 × 3W 2-stroke piston engine, 1.5 hp
Maximum speed: 55-80 mph
Endurance: 20 + hours
Service ceiling: 16,000 feet above ground level (4,876 meters)

P-8A Poseidon “operationally effective, operationally suitable and ready for fleet introduction”

The US Navy’s new P-8A Poseidon aircraft are “operationally effective, operationally suitable and ready for fleet introduction.”

NAVAIR: P-8A Poseidon Ready for Deployment

P-8A Poseidon, operated by Patrol Squadron (VP-16) in February, 2013. US Navy Photo

The Navy’s next-generation manned maritime information, surveillance and reconnaissance has been certified to enter regular service, according to a Naval Air Systems Command statement issued late Monday.

The P-8A Poseidon passed an Initial Operational Test and Evaluation that found the aircraft, “operationally effective, operationally suitable and ready for fleet introduction.”

“We are proud to add the P-8 to the Navy’s weapons inventory and the deployment cycle later this year,” said Capt. Scott Dillon, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) program manager in a NAVAIR statement.

Six Poseidons assigned to Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16) “War Eagles” are planned to deploy to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan in December.

Based on the Boeing 737 airframe, the P-8 is slated to replace the P-3 Orions the navy currently uses for the ISR role. The Navy plans to buy 117 of the aircraft.

In addition to the surveillance role, the P-8 is an armed platform capable of firing missiles and deploying torpedoes.

On June 24, a P-8 successfully fired a Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC anti-ship missile in a test, according to NAVAIR.

A Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC missile, which was released from a P-8A Poseidon (not visible), directly hits a Low Cost Modular Target (LCMT)at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California June 24. Bottom photo: A LCMT at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range is shown after the Harpoon successfully strikes it. US Navy Photo

MQ-4C Triton may fill UK operational gap following cancellation of Nimrod MRA4

The MQ-4C Triton may fill an operational gap faced by the Royal Navy following the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4.

Although I’d wager a Frobisher & Gleason raspberry-flavored ice lolly that the RAF claim the RPVs as “theirs” and shunt the RN to one side.

Northrop Grumman displays MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance drone in the UK

The first MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance drones were recently delivered to the US Navy. Photo: Northrop Grumman

After avoiding high profile, expensive events such as the Paris Airshow, Northrop Grumman opted to become one of the principal industry sponsors at the 19th annual Waddington International Air Show, being heldJuly 6-7 at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire in the UK. Defense-Update reports.

The company will display here a full scale model of the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance drone it is building for the US Navy. There are several reasons for the appearance of the Triton here – the US Navy is seeking overseas basing for this drone, and Northrop Grumman is looking for new international markets for the aircraft, the UK is likely to be one of these markets.

For the Brits, the maritime surveillance capability of Triton could fulfil a capability gap created after the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) were phased out in 2010 and development of a new generation MPA aircraft terminated under the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

In December 2012 Defence secretary Philip Hammond said the Libya campaign had shown Nato’s over reliance on the US, he added that using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be cheaper and less risky than developing a manned maritime surveillance aircraft. “It may be that we will move straight to unmanned reconnaissance vehicles that can do the task at lower cost and much less risk to the crew.” Hammond told members of the Parliament’s joint committee on the national security strategy.

Triton is the most advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system ever designed for use across vast ocean areas and coastal regions. Triton is designed to fly surveillance missions of up to 24 hours duration and at altitudes of more than 10 miles, allowing coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles at a time.