Studies are underway to further enhance the at-sea performance of the US Navy’s Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout.

Bernard Ferrier, head of the dynamic interface laboratory at Stamford, Connecticut-based Hoffman Engineering, says he and his team are studying the interaction between MQ-8Cs and a moving ship, in order to improve the aircraft’s operations.

The research will help better define the deck limits of the aircraft, improve operations manuals and give the aircraft better tactical flexibility.

Initially confined to simulations, the work will then progress to test flights over both land and water.

Work has also begun to improve the UAV common automated recovery system, which uses radar technology first developed during the Vietnam War to locate a Fire Scout’s position and guide it onto the deck of a ship.

But researchers must keep costs down. “The US government is broke, so we have to do stuff that is cost effective,” says Ferrier.