US Navy MQ-8B VTOL UAS Designates Targets for MH-60R Helicopter and Hellfire missiles

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Naval Forces News - USA
 
 
 
US Navy MQ-8B VTOL UAS Designates Targets for MH-60R Helicopter and Hellfire missiles
 
By Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Hegarty, Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs
The "Wildcards" of U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 made history Sept. 14 when they used a MQ-8B unmanned air system as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to fire a AGM-114N Hellfire missile.
     
The "Wildcards" of U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 made history Sept. 14 when they used a MQ-8B unmanned air system as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to fire a AGM-114N Hellfire missile.
CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (May 29, 2015) An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system, left, and an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter are displayed on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) while the ship is moored pierside in Singapore. Fort Worth is on a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific-Rebalance. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. James Arterberry/Released
     
For the mission, the MH-60S launched from Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, while the Northrup Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout was operated from NAS Point Mugu. The shot took place on a designated live-fire range off the coast of NAS Point Mugu against a dynamic target, which moved at approximately 10-15 knots. The Fire Scout detected target location and was transmitted to the MH-60S for targeting. Once all target requirements were met, the Fire Scout lased the target while the MH-60S moved forward and into position for the running missile shot.

"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," said Lt. Cdr. Thanh Nguyen, one of the MH-60S pilots who participated in the exercise. "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."

The successful Hellfire shot marks a significant milestone in the integration between Navy-manned helicopters and unmanned assets.

"The hunter-killer team of Fire Scout and MH-60S is now a proven combination that will be a game-changer for future deployments," said Nguyen.

HSC-23 is a Coronado-based expeditionary squadron under Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific. It is the first squadron to deploy a MH-60S and MQ-8B composite detachment aboard Independence class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).
 

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