11.5.2020

MQ-8C starts flight tests with new radar

MQ-8C starts flight tests with new radar – link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines

  • Flight testing with the Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 Osprey radar commenced from the US Navy’s Patuxent River testing facility in late February, says Northrop
  • “The AN/ZPY-8 radar significantly increases Fire Scout’s detection and tracking of targets,” says Melissa Packwood, program manager, tactical autonomous systems at Northrop Grumman
  • Several weeks of ground testing took place before the unmanned rotorcraft operated its first flight with the new radar on 27 February
  • Leonardo originally announced the MQ-8C radar deal in 2016
  • “Employing high-frequency radio waves to ‘see’, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at extremely long ranges, at night and even in stormy weather conditions when visibility is extremely poor,” said the company

Overview & Comments

  • The US Navy declared IOC for the MQ-8C in June 2019, six years after flight trials commenced in 2013
  • With 38 MQ-8Cs planned for the US Navy, the platform is currently the largest operational unmanned rotary aircraft with other competitors trailing behind
  • Airbus’ VSR700 completed its first fully unmanned flight while tethered to the ground and Leonardo’s SW-4 operating in optionally piloted mode
  • As UAS maritime operations grow and additional operational experience will be gained by the system more navies will be interested in larger rotary systems such as the MQ-8C to fill a current operational gap that cannot be closed by smaller systems such as Scheibel’s S-100 or fixed-wing maritime based UAS such as the RQ-21
  • One such Navy is the Japanese who has openly sought information for possible acquisition back in 2016
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