Accident investigators are trying to determine why a Northrop Grumman-owned Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (TUAV) crashed during flight testing at the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center, California, on 4 November.

The vehicle was destroyed while performing risk reduction flight trials in support of the 42-month engineering and manufacturing development contract awarded by the US Navy in February. The UAV, which flew without its payload, was completing a 26 minute flight test. It failed to transition from a hover over the final waypoint and hit the ground.

Unlike the production Model 379 Fire Scouts to follow, the vehicle flew without dual redundant flight control avionics.

The VTOL system incorporates a modified Rolls-Royce Model 250-powered Schweizer Aircraft 330 turbine helicopter.

Source: Flight International