US Navy’s unmanned helicopter deploys with improved radar capabilities

The U.S. Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter recently deployed with the USS Coronado (LCS-4) to begin flight operations using its new maritime surveillance radar.

According to the Naval Air Systems Command, the AN/ZPY-4(V)1 radar, built by Telephonics Corporation, will be used to improve the situational awareness of the Fire Scout operators and the ship’s crew in maritime and littoral environments. The AN/ZPY-4(V)1 will also improve Fire Scout’s target classification for maritime and overland targets.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Three (HSC-23) will operate both the Fire Scout and the “regular” MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to increase situational awareness and threat warning in a high-traffic littoral environment.

“Our overall goal for the first-ever HSC/LCS deployment is to integrate the MQ-8B Fire Scout and MH-60S in all available scenarios in order to act as a force multiplier for ships and to function as a vital arm of distributed lethality for the tactical commander,” said Capt. Ben Reynolds, Commodore, HSC Wing Pacific.

The radar will be used in support of surface unit warfare objectives. It will expand the search area for the ship’s combat team with the ability to simultaneously track up to 150 targets and increase detection accuracies out to 70 nautical miles, the navy command said.

The MQ-8B Fire Scout will also support the Navy’s biennially RIMPAC exercise this summer while deployed aboard LCS-4.