Imagine how difficult it is to land a remote controlled toy helicopter on a motorboat speeding across the lake. What if the helicopter is a real one, the motor boat is a ship, and the lake is the Atlantic Ocean? These are the tests that the US military conducted, testing the latest unmanned helicopter - the MQ-8C Fire Scout.
The pilots successfully completed 32 arrivals and landings on the new unmanned vehicle. During testing, an assessment was made of the drone's ability to work in different wind strengths, as well as how well it can land on a moving vessel. In addition, three test flights were made, during which the helicopter flew out of the field of view of the aircraft carrier, and then returned back to the ship.
The Fire Scout is a modified version of the Bell 407 general-purpose helicopter. Improvements primarily affected unmanned capabilities - the MQ-8C does not provide for the location of the pilot in the cockpit. Instead, the operator must control the helicopter remotely, from a control station located on the ship or on land.
The MQ-8 series unmanned helicopters first appeared in 2009 and have been used by the US military for reconnaissance and surveillance ever since. The new version of the MQ-8C is heavier than its predecessor, but it can also stay in the air longer - 12 hours versus 5.5 hours.