The US Navy has detailed causes of two crashes of the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout that led to an 'operational pause' in flights of the aircraft.

Both crashes occurred independently of one another and involved different systems of the rotary-wing, vertical takeoff unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV). The aircraft were subsequently restricted from flight, a ban that was quickly lifted.

The first crash occurred on 30 March during deployment aboard the USS Simpson, off the coast of West Africa. The aircraft's automated landing system malfunctioned, and the ship's commander decided to ditch the aircraft in the sea. The aircraft floated on the water overnight until the ship's crew was able to recover it the following morning.

The second MQ-8B crashed on 6 April due to a failure of the aircraft's navigation system during an operational mission in northern Afghanistan. The system's failure led to a loss of barometric pressure indication, the measurement used to gauge altitude, and the MQ-8B subsequently crashed.

While the wreckage was recovered, the aircraft was written off. Two aircraft remain deployed to Afghanistan supporting NATO troops in the region.

Four MQ-8Bs are currently deployed aboard the USS Klakring, en-route to a six month cruise off the coast of Horn of Africa, supporting special forces operating in and around Somalia and neighboring nations.

Source: Flight International