skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Navy Launches Its First Drone Squadron

A photo of the MQ-8B, provided by Northrup Grumman.

The U.S. Navy is inaugurating its first squadron that mixes advanced unmanned drones with conventional aircraft.

The maritime strike squadron, nicknamed the "Magicians" will be officially launched at the Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado, near San Diego.

Along with eight manned helicopters, the squadron will include a number of unmanned helicopter drones, known as MQ-8B Fire Scouts, that can track targets at sea or on land. The Air Force already has several drone squadrons.

The Fire Scout, built by Northrup Grumman, "has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to the soldier in contact," according to company literature.

Northrup Grumman says the unmanned aerial vehicle can operate continuously up to eight hours while providing coverage in a 125-mile radius of the launch site.

The Associated Press quotes U.S. Navy Lt. Aaron Kakiel as saying the squadron will be deployed aboard the Navy's new littoral combat ship in about a year.

The squadron's creation comes 100 years after the formation of the first Navy air detachment, Kakiel says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

We've upgraded to a better commenting experience!
Log in with your social profile or create a Disqus account.

Please stay on topic and be as concise as possible. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Community Discussion Rules. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus