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Computer Operator Nearly Self-Destructs Unmanned Navy Chopper

Fire Scout Drone Helicopter
(northrop-grumman)

When you’re at work, and you make a keyboard mistake, it’s usually correctable and generally results in just a few annoying extra minutes to fix.  For an unnamed Navy computer programmer/operator, it nearly destroyed a multi-million dollar drone helicopter.

Unlike the wildly successful Predator and other drones used by the military for gathering data, intel, and carrying out military strikes, the Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout has not been so successful.   It’s an attempt to steer drone technology to helicopters that can be carried on ships.  The Fire Scout failed 10 of 10 tests recently at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River Maryland, and aboard the USS Halyburton, it completed successfully only 29 of 58 operational tests.  But it gets even better.  Recently  one of the Fire Scouts lost contact with it’s programmer-pilot, and flew into restricted airspace over Washington D.C. before the programmer was able to re-establish contact and abort the mission.  And now the news is out that during the tests in Maryland,  the programmer-pilot accidentally bumped the space bar on their keyboard with a wire from their headset–setting of the Fire Scout’s self-destruct sequence.  Several more steps are required before the drone chopper will actually explode, but the  fact that a simple press of the spacebar will activate the procedure has alarmed Defense Department officials, who are considering buying 168 of the units from Northrop-Grumman.  See the unit in action here:

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