During a routine test flight, a MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-off and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) supported its first drug interdiction with USS McInerney (FFG 8) and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (USCG LEDET) Apr. 3.
McInerney launched one of its two embarked Fire Scout’s to test different functions and settings when it acquired a suspected narcotics “go-fast” on radar. The Mission Payload Operator completed testing and received permission to pursue.
Over the course of three hours, Fire Scout monitored the go-fast with McInerney. With its state-of-the-art optics and extremely small profile, Fire Scout was able to maintain an unprecedented covert posture while feeding real-time video back to McInerney.
Fire Scout proceeded to capture video of the “go-fast” meeting with a fishing vessel for what appeared to be a refueling/logistics transfer. McInerney and its embarked USCG LEDET moved in and seized approximately 60 kilos of cocaine and caused the suspected traffickers to jettison another approximately 200 kilos of narcotics.
Fire Scout has been deployed onboard McInerney in the Eastern Pacific since October 2009. McInerney, with embarked Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) 42 Detachment 7 (HSL Det 7), is deployed for U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility conducting counter illicit trafficking (CIT) operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South. The embarked Fire Scout VTUAVs are operated and maintained by a team from HSL 42 Det 7, the Navy Fire Scout Program Office, and Northrop Grumman Corporation.
NAVSO is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all Naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. NAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the Maritime Strategy, including Theater Security Cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and CIT operations.
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