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.
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.