US Navy picks Leonardo-Finmeccanica to provide radars for MQ-8C Fire Scout

Leonardo-Finmeccanica announced Monday that its Osprey active electronically scanned array AESA radar has been picked to serve as look-out on-board the US Navy’s newly-upgraded unmanned helicopter, the MQ-8C Fire Scout.

The unmanned helicopter is designed to take off from the decks of US Navy ships to keep watch for distant threats.

The contract will see Leonardo delivering an initial batch of 5 radars to the US Navy’s procurement organisation, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), for testing and evaluation work.

According to the company, NAVAIR will then have an option to buy a larger quantity of the radars for use in real operations.

Leonardo said it has already built a number of Osprey radars so the primary task under this contract is integration with the MQ-8C Fire Scout in time for first production deliveries.

Employing high-frequency radio waves to ‘see’, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at long ranges, at night and even in stormy weather conditions when visibility is extremely poor, the company says.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is expected in future to be fully integrated with both variants of the US Navy’s littoral combat ship and be used extensively on operations. The US Navy has chosen the 2-panel version of the Osprey which will provide a 240 degree instantaneous field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a ground moving target indicator (GMTI).