At-sea testing of Northrop Grumman's RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) has begun on the assault transport USS Denver off the coast of Point Mugu, California.

The initial phase demonstrated remotely controlled shipboard engine starts and rotor engagements. Low-speed approaches using the US Navy's tactical control system and unmanned common automatic recovery system are planned for this month, followed in September with take offs and landings on the Denver.

There are no plans currently to fund the Fire Scout programme beyond completion of these development tests.

Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated a synthetic-aperture radar/moving-target indicator (SAR/MTI) system mounted in the nose of the Fire Scout.

The General Atomics SAR/MTI radar was carried in addition to the Fire Scout's existing electro-optical/infrared sensor and laser rangefinder/designator payload. It produced 0.3m- and 0.1m-resolution SAR images.

The next phase of company-funded testing will assess Northrop Grumman's sub-0.3m resolution TUAVR tactical UAV SAR/MTI radar.

Source: Flight International