MQ-8C Fire Scout with Leonardo AESA Radar
US Navy MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to be equipped with Leonardo’s Osprey Electronically Scanned Radar
Leonardo, October 18, 2016 - Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Osprey AESA radar has been picked to serve as look-out on-board the US Navy’s newly-upgraded unmanned helicopter, the MQ-8C Fire Scout.
The helicopter will be launched from the decks of US naval combat vessels to keep watch for distant threats.
Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s proven AESA surveillance radars have been chosen by the US Naval Test Pilot School, US Coast Guard and US Customs and Border Protection
The contract will see Leonardo delivering an initial batch of 5 radars to the US Navy’s procurement organisation, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), for testing and evaluation work.
NAVAIR then has an option to buy a larger quantity of the radars for use in real operations. Leonardo has already built a number of Osprey radars so the primary task under this contract is integration with the MQ-8C Fire Scout in time for first production deliveries.
Using its electronic beam technology to scan from high in the sky, crews back on-board will be able to spot even those threats who think they are hiding safely beyond the range of standard ship-based sensors. 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. The radar’s world-first flat-panel technology also means it can be installed within the mould line of the helicopter rather than having to use an underslung belly-pod.
Leonardo is an international leader in radar technology and the Osprey was selected in part because it is the world’s first radar to provide the needed coverage without moving parts or the need for a bulky external radome, all in a package light enough to fit on an MQ-8C Fire Scout. The MQ-8C Fire Scout is expected in future to be fully integrated with both variants of the US Navy’s littoral combat ship and be used extensively on operations.
The US Navy has chosen the 2-panel version of the Osprey which will provide a 240 degree instantaneous field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a ground moving target indicator (GMTI). The lack of moving parts inherent in the ‘E-Scan’ design means that repair and support costs are vastly reduced compared to alternative radar options. Osprey also provides an open architecture, meaning the US Navy can insert new software independently.
The contract builds on Leonardo’s established track record in providing AESA radar technology to the United States. Last month the company secured a contract which will see the Vixen 500E AESA radar provided for the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) for students training on-board the school’s C-26 aircraft. Previously, the company has also sold the Vixen 500E radar technology for use by the US Customs and Border Protection and has contracted with the US Coast Guard to provide its Seaspray 7500E AESA surveillance radars for the Coast Guard’s HC-130H aircraft.
Leonardo-Finmeccanica is among the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. As a single entity from January 2016, organised into business divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Leonardo-Finmeccanica operates in the most competitive international markets by leveraging its areas of technology and product leadership. Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), at 31 December 2015 Finmeccanica recorded consolidated revenues of 13 billion Euros and has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the UK and the U.S.
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Northrop-Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout in US Navy
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