Glitches: Navy’s expensive drone helicopters are unreliable 

WHAT: A leaked report from the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office disclosed that the MQ-8B Fire Scout’s unmanned helicopter’s computer link to ground operators is so oversensitive that it frequently causes delayed or canceled flights.

HOW: An operator’s headset wire pressing down on the keyboard spacebar was enough to start a Fire Scout self-destruct sequence. Another Fire Scout lost computer contact for about 30 minutes and flew into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C.

WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: The report concluded that the proposed $2.8 billion Fire Scout program might not be able to provide ground troops with time-sensitive intelligence. The Navy plans to buy 168 Fire Scouts and claims most of the bugs are now fixed.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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