The U.S. Navy on Thursday inaugurated its first squadron with both manned and unmanned aircraft. Military officials launched the effort by reactivating the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, known as the “Magicians” or HSL-35, which served for 19 years before being deactivated in 1992.
“The HSL-35 points to the future of naval aviation,” Vice Admiral David H. Buss, commander of naval air forces, told the crowd attending the ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado, near San Diego, Calif. The squadron is expected to have eight manned helicopters and 10 Northrop Grumman Fire Scout MQ-8Bs, unmanned helicopters that track targets and eventually will be armed, said Cmdr. Christopher S. Hewlett, the squadron’s commanding officer.
The squadron will operate the Fire Scouts from the Navy’s new littoral combat ships in the Pacific in about a year.
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