• Unmanned Helicopter Crashes Into Navy Ship

    From Larry Dighera@21:1/5 to All on Fri Apr 30 08:06:55 2021
    How many US tax dollars were lost as a result of this mishap?

    The article at the bottom of this message suggests that the cost to US tax payers was ~$27.5 million per aircraft. Of course, that doesn't include the cost of accident investigation, damage repair, etc....


    Unmanned Helicopter Crashes Into Navy Ship
    Kate O'Connor April 28, 2021

    Image: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Butler

    An unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter crashed into the side of USS
    Charleston shortly after taking off from the ship on Monday. No one was
    injured in the incident, but U.S. Navy officials reported that the aircraft fell into the water and was not recovered. The crash occurred at
    approximately 3:40 p.m. local time.

    “The mishap damaged a safety net on the ship and struck the hull,” the U.S. Third Fleet said in a statement. “Damage to the ship is being assessed, but appears limited to an area above the waterline. Charleston continues
    operations in the Western Pacific.”

    The aircraft was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, which is
    based out of California’s Naval Air Station North Island. The cause of the accident is under investigation. The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout is a vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) measuring 31.7 feet long.


    MQ-8B Fire Scout Crashes Into Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston On
    By: Megan Eckstein
    April 27, 2021 4:26 PM • Updated: April 27, 2021 6:19 PM

    PACIFIC OCEAN (March 27, 2021) Sailors charge the battery of an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle aboard Independence-variant littoral combat
    ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), March 27. Charleston is currently operating in U.S. Third Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd
    Class Adam Butler)

    An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle crashed into the side of
    Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) after taking off from the ship today, the Navy announced.

    The rotary-wing UAV was operating from the ship around 9:40 a.m. when the collision happened in the Western Pacific, according to a U.S. 3rd Fleet
    news release.

    The UAV fell into the sea and was not recovered, the release reads.

    “The mishap damaged a safety net on the ship and struck the hull. Damage to
    the ship is being assessed, but appears limited to an area above the waterline.”

    USS Charleston (LCS-18) during acceptance trials on July 18, 2018. Austal photo.

    “No one was injured, and the Littoral Combat Ship continued to safely
    operate after the incident,” the news release continues. The cause of the mishap is under investigation.

    Charleston began its maiden deployment earlier this month with the Gold Crew aboard, conducting a live-fire event in early April that included a Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM) launch. The training event was overseen by Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), and shortly after completion of the SMWDC training the ship left San Diego. A Navy official
    told USNI News Charleston was operating on its way to Guam when the mishap
    with the Fire Scout occurred.

    The Navy news release notes the MQ-8B Fire Scout is nearly 32 feet long and
    10 feet tall. It is assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21,
    based out of Naval Air Station North Island, and operates as part of a manned-unmanned team of Fire Scouts and MH-60 helicopters as part of the LCS surface warfare mission package. ---------------------------------------------------------


    Unit Costs Surge for MQ-8 Fire Scout Drone
    18 Apr 2014
    The Navy's drone helicopter, the Air Force's precision-landing system and
    the Army's digital radio for ground troops are among the Pentagon's weapons programs whose unit costs surged in the past year.

    The Navy's MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned chopper developed by Northrop Grumman
    Corp. and the Air Force's Joint Precision Approach and Landing System
    developed by Raytheon Co. had "critical" cost overruns of more than 50
    percent over original projections, according to a summary of the Defense Department's latest Selected Acquisition Reports.

    The size of the increases triggered a law requiring congressional
    notification and may put the programs at risk of cancellation. Frank
    Kendall, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, will make a decision whether to re-certify the acquisition efforts "no later than June 17, 2014, as required
    by law," according to the document released Thursday.

    The Navy has already nixed plans to buy 17 more Fire Scouts over the next
    five years as part of its budget request for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct.
    1. The move left the future of the program unclear.

    Warren Comer, a spokesman for Falls Church, Va.-based Northrop, said Fire
    Scout has proven to be "highly successful" program. The company since 2011
    has made three significant upgrades to the platform, including endurance, weapons and radar enhancements to support various types of missions, he

    "These upgrades, originally contracted as separate rapid deployment efforts, are now being incorporated into the baseline program of record," Comer said
    in an e-mail. "This allows the Fire Scout system to spend greater time supporting missions with fewer aircraft."

    In other acquisition efforts, the Navy's E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System Block 40/45 Upgrade developed by Boeing Co. and the Army's
    Joint Tactical Radio System's Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit program developed by General Dynamics Corp. had "significant" overruns, according to the report.

    The law, known as Nunn-McCurdy, was enacted in 1982 to give lawmakers a
    better sense of problems with weapons procurement, though rarely is the reporting process used to actually cancel programs.

    The MQ-8 Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter developed under the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program, or VTUAV. It's designed to fly from warships and provide troops with surveillance and fire support.

    The Navy plans to buy a total of 126 of the aircraft, including seven prototypes and 119 production models, for an overall cost of $3.47 billion
    -- a 24-percent increase from the original estimate of $2.79 billion,
    according to the Pentagon report. The price tag increased despite a planned reduction in aircraft, from 177 to 126, or 51 vehicles.

    The increase in unit cost was "due to an increased requirement for
    warfighter capabilities of the system and an overall reduction in the total
    air vehicle quantities being procured," from 177 to 126, or 51 aircraft, the document states. Specific unit cost figures weren't given, but based on the figures above, they increased more than 70 percent, from about $15.7 million per aircraft to about $27.5 million per aircraft.

    In its fiscal 2015 budget request, the Navy "made a decision to streamline
    the maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance portfolio by combining previously developed MQ-8 Fire Scout rapid deployment capabilities (endurance upgrade, radar, and weapons) into the Program of Record (POR)," Jamie Cosgrove, a Navy spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. "The Department determined that transitioning these capabilities was a cost-effective investment to support LCS missions," she said, referring to the Littoral
    Combat Ship.

    The Navy stopped production of the MQ-8B after buying 30 of the aircraft
    with the Schweizer 333 airframe, according to a separate Pentagon test
    report from earlier this year. The service wants to switch to the Bell 407 airframe for the MQ-8C, another version of the drone based in part on requirements from U.S. Special Operations Command.

    While the service has successfully integrated the Advanced Precision Weapon Kill System, which converts unguided Hydra rockets into precision-guided missiles, on the Fire Scout, "additional sea-based testing is required
    before the Navy can field a sea-based, weaponized unmanned aerial system,"
    the test report states.

    With more than 40 Fire Scouts in the inventory or on order, the Navy has indicated it has enough of the aircraft to support a reduced fleet of
    Littoral Combat Ships. Due in part to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, the service cut the number of the surface vessels it planned
    to buy to 32 from 52.

    (Story was updated to correct overall cost increase, and add unit cost
    figures and quotes from Navy spokeswoman beginning in the 10th paragraph.)

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