US Navy’s MQ-8B UAS used to designate targets for Hellfire missiles

27 September 2016 (Last Updated September 27th, 2016 18:30)

The US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 has successfully demonstrated the use of MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air system to remote designate targets for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to fire an AGM-114N Hellfire missile.

The US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 has successfully demonstrated the use of MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air system to remote designate targets for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to fire an AGM-114N Hellfire missile.

HSC-23, also known as the Wildcards, has now become the first squadron to deploy a MH-60S and MQ-8B composite detachment aboard Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

The successful Hellfire shot marks the integration between the navy's manned helicopters and unmanned assets.

"We were able to validate the Fire Scout's ability to find and designate a target."

MH-60S pilot lieutenant commander Thanh Nguyen said: "It was awesome to see the MQ-8B and MH-60S tactics and procedures being used in conjunction with each other for the first time.

"We were able to validate the Fire Scout's ability to find and designate a target, which greatly expands the lethal range of the MH-60S while keeping air crews out of harm's way."

During the event, the MQ-8B UAS successfully detected the dynamic moving target's location and relayed the information to the MH-60S helicopter. The target was moving at a speed of between 10k and 15k.

The missile shot took place on a designated live-fire range off the coast of Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu.

Northrup Grumman-built MQ-8B is one of the two Fire Scout variants, which are combat-proven unmanned helicopter systems.

They are designed to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), target-acquisition, laser designation, and battle management to tactical users.


Image: MQ-8B Fire Scout performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released.