CORONADO, Calif. – For the first time, the Navy will use drones, including life-sized remote control helicopters, and traditional aircraft in the same squadron.
On Thursday, the Navy established the new Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35.
“This is a blank slate,” HMS 35 Commanding Officer Christopher Hewlett said. “I’ve got a bunch of young enthusiastic petty officers and officers who work for me and it’s a great thing to watch them go forward and grab a hold of this idea.”
The Fire Scout MQ-8 B is the star of the show. It’s the same size as a commercial helicopter, but it flies by remote control, it can stay in the air longer and go up to 110 miles away.
That makes it perfect for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare in coastal areas.
“I do not refer to these as drones,” Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Admiral David Buss said. ” When we use unmanned systems at the tactical level like this squadron will, there’s a sense of ownership by the squadron.”
The HMS Squadron 35 IS scheduled to deploy in the South Pacific Spring of next year.