The US Navy lost an unmanned helicopter as it crashed into the side of littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) after taking off from the ship on April 26.
No one was injured in the mishap, the navy said, adding that the Independence-variant LCS continued to operate after the incident.
The MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) – 31.7 feet long and nearly 10 feet tall – fell into the sea and was not recovered.
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. Charleston continues operations in the Western Pacific.
The navy said the cause of the mishap is under investigation.
The Fire Scout was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 based out of Naval Air Station North Island and was assigned to Charleston as part of its current mission.
The MQ-8 provides day and night real-time ISR target acquisition, using the Brite Star II turret electro-optical/infrared/laser designator-range finder payload and maritime search radar, along with other modular mission specific payloads for voice communications relay and battlefield management support to the tactical commander. The Navy plans to replace the MQ-8B airframe, which is based on the commercial Schweizer 333 airframe, with the MQ-8C airframe – based on a modified Bell 407, which has improved endurance and payload capacity.