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Northrop Grumman To Install New Radar Aboard Navy’s Unmanned Helicopters

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Northrop Grumman To Install New Radar Aboard Navy’s Unmanned Helicopters

US helicopter drone

Northrop Grumman Corp has won the contract to upgrade the surface-search radar system on as many as eight of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout shipboard unmanned helicopters.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced their intention earlier this week to award an order to the Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems segment in San Diego to provide as many as eight AN/ZPY-8 radar aircraft-kits (A-kits) for MQ-8C UAVs.

The AN/ZPY-8 Osprey MM radar aboard the Navy MQ-8C fleet is from Leonardo MW Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland. Leonardo MW is an arm of the Leonardo-Finmeccania corporation in Rome, which oversees the company’s aerospace, defence and security operations in the United Kingdom.

The Leonardo Osprey MM AESA multi-mode surveillance radar can be mounted on helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The amount of the upcoming order has yet to be negotiated, and should be awarded by April 2021.

Northrop Grumman is the designer and systems integrator of the MQ-8C Fire Scout, an unmanned version of the Bell 407 helicopter from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. The manned version of the Bell 407 seats seven, can carry a useful load of 2,347 pounds, flies up to 140 knots, and has a range of 324 nautical miles.

The long-range MQ-8C is designed to fly from the decks of destroyers and other naval surface warships to extend the surveillance and reconnaissance range of the Navy’s surface ships that are operating away from aircraft carriers and land-based aircraft.

The Navy declared initial operational capability of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter on 28 June 2019, clearing the way for fleet operations and training.

The MQ-8C variant is an endurance and payload upgrade to its predecessor, the MQ-8B, offering up to 12 hours flight time depending on payload, and incorporates the commercial Bell 407 airframe.

The Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout unmanned helicopters have flown more than 1,500 hours with more than 700 sorties to date. Over the next few years, Northrop Grumman will continue MQ-8C production deliveries to the Navy to complete a total of 38 aircraft.

The Leonardo Osprey MM is a multi-mode surveillance radar for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that provides second-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance capability. It brings together wide-azimuth and -elevation electronically scanned fixed antennas with a compact radar signal processor and multi-channel receiver.

Employing high-frequency radio waves, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at long ranges, at night, and in poor visibility to detect distant threats.

The small-size Osprey MM provides high-performance sea surveillance against difficult targets, as well as land surveillance with wide-swath high-resolution ground mapping, small and low-speed ground target indication, air-to-air surveillance, tracking, and intercept. It can interleave modes rapidly and provide scan-independent beam steering. LINK

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