Watch This Drone Helicopter Take Off At Sea

Unmanned and unafraid

The Fire Scout C’s smooth, gray body is a mockery of helicopter form. Where there should be windows, there are bulbous gray surfaces; where there should be pilots, there are only computer racks; and where there should be the nervous sweat that comes with taking off at sea, there is only cool, mechanical precision. Made by Northrop Grumman, the Fire Scout C is a full-sized helicopter drone, borrowing software innovations from its much smaller Fire Scout B predecessors and putting those innovations in the body of a normally-human-piloted Bell 407 helicopter.

On December 16th, a Fire Scout successfully flew off the back of the USS Jason Dunham destroyer. Visible in the video below is the giant camera sensor pod at the front of the Fire Scout, which lets it do the whole scouting thing with the complete — and eerie — absence of any people on board.

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.