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New Hybrid UAV and Helo Squadron Stands Up

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MQ-8B Fire Scout on the flight line at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif in 2011. US Navy Photo

MQ-8B Fire Scout on the flight line at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif in 2011. US Navy Photo

The Navy’s first aviation squadron that combines unmanned aerial vehicles and manned helicopters stoop up on Thursday at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., according to a release from U.S. Naval Air Forces.

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 will be the first to support aviation elements assigned to the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships.

HMS 35 – nicknamed “Magicians” – will fly a mix of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and MQ-8B Fire Scout rotary-wing UAVs.

Crews will train on flying and maintaining both sets of aircraft for the aviation mission onboard both variants of the LCS.

“The concept would be that all personnel assigned to HSM-35 would get the training en route before reporting aboard,” a Naval Air Forces spokesman told the Navy Times. “That cross-training will give squadron and detachment leaders the flexibility in assigning personnel, including crew who will be trained to fly the autonomous drones.”