LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – For the past 11 years, AVIAN LLC has pioneered its fair share of projects for the U.S. Navy with unmanned aviation at the forefront.
Last November, an all-AVIAN crew conducted the first flight of an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) at the Navy Outlying Field, Webster Field, St. Inigoes, Maryland.
For more than 30 years, Webster Field has been a hub for the U.S. Navy’s unmanned aviation and serves as the development and testing center for the MQ-8 Fire Scout and other Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“AVIAN is proud to be at the forefront of the growing community of unmanned aviation,” said Freeman Dodsworth, AVIAN’s program manager for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate (UASTD). “In 2008, we became the first non-OEM [original equipment manufacturer] contractor to support the MQ-8 Fire Scout Integrated Test Team with UAS pilots and engineering project officers. This was the catalyst that helped NAVAIR transition the Fire Scout ITT from an OEM contractor-led team to a Government led ITT.”
The MQ-8 Fire Scout system is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.
Unmanned Aircraft Commander, Freeman Dodsworth, along with Mission Payload Operator, Chad McKinley; Project Officer, Jeff Danielson and Control Station Engineer, John Healy, concluded six months of forward planning for the short 45-minute flight.
“The safe for flight process for the Navy Test Wing Atlantic is in-depth,” Dodsworth said. “The AVIAN team worked closely with UASTD and test engineers from the NAVAIR 5.1 Flight Test Engineering group to prepare for the safe evolution of the first flight.”
This spring, Dodsworth, Danielson and McKinley will lead the MQ-8C Fire Scout test program, which will include a shipboard detachment aboard Littoral Combat (LCS) class ships.
The MQ-8B, the predecessor to the MQ-8C, can operate from air-capable ships with deployments on Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) and the LCS. The MQ-8C air vehicle upgrade will provide longer endurance, range and greater payload capability than the MQ-8B.
AVIAN is the sole provider of test and evaluation services for the UASTD and has provided prime contractor support services since 2013.
In 2013, The Fire Scout test team was recognized for during the annual Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Commander’s Awards for their outstanding test and evaluation of the integration of the Advance Precision Kill Weapon System II, also known as APKWS II, on the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
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