- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) - Northrop Grumman Corp. has completed precision sloped landing tests with the MQ-8C Fire Scout at Naval Base Ventura in California.

Now, officials said the Fire Scout is preparing for at-sea testing.

“The sloped takeoff and landing tests are designed to be as real as it gets to actually operating on a Navy ship,” Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout program manager at Naval Air Systems Command, told The Mississippi Press reports (http://bit.ly/1tiGWh8 ).

“The autonomous MQ-8C Fire Scout system is able to precisely track and understand the roll and pitch of the surface which resembles at-sea conditions,” he said.

The sloped landing platform was previously used to test and certify the MQ-8B Fire Scout for ship-based operations and is now being used for the more capable MQ-8C.

Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point completes final assembly of the Fire Scout. The Moss Point center, also builds fuselages for the Air Force’s Global Hawk program and the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, among others.

The MQ-8C is the company’s latest variant of its successful Fire Scout unmanned aerial system, which performs intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the U.S. Navy.

Since its first flight Oct. 31, 2013, the MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown 219 flights and 287 hours.

The most recent tests on the MQ-8C have consisted of electromagnetic testing, which assured compatibility with ship-based emitters (such as radar) and an initial phase of dynamic interface testing, which looked at deck handling and communications.

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Information from: The Mississippi Press, http://www.gulflive.com

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