Fire Scout breaks endurance records during latest deployment

The Navy’s fourth Fire Scout detachment returned to Mayport, Fla. on Dec. 1 after achieving several milestones during its five-month deployment aboard USS Klakring, an escort frigate that typically carries SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, reports the Naval Air Systems Command’s Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO U&W).

The Fire Scout unmanned helicopter detachment logged more than 500 flight hours in the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility supporting anti-piracy operations and providing real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to combatant commanders.

“In today’s environment of ever increasing demands for ISR support, we have proven that a ship with a multi-vehicle Fire Scout detachment can provide the same support to the operational commander as that which would otherwise require multiple land-based ISR assets,” said Cmdr. Darrell Canady, USS Klakring commanding officer, in a statement issued by PEO (U&W). “Our team perfected the art of managing maintenance requirements and crew rest in proving that 12 hour-a-day operations could be sustained almost indefinitely.

With what PEO (U&W) said was a “record number of unmanned helicopters aboard Klakring,” Fire Scout regularly maintained 12-hour days on station, switching aircraft to provide continuous and thorough support. The system accomplished a new single-day endurance record, providing continuous ISR support for an entire 24-hour period, reports PEO (U&W), adding that for the first time ever Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 conducted dual air vehicle operations.

“The real achievement on this deployment was a surge we executed to provide just over 24 continuous hours of ISR coverage in late September,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jay Lambert, HSL-42 detachment officer-in-charge, in the statement. “Completing this milestone required 10 separate flights, refueling aircraft 8 times and having the ship setting flight quarters for launch or recovery 20 times.”

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