US Navy’s Unmanned Fire Safety Helicopter to Be Equipped with an AN/ZPY Radar

The US Navy, in partnership with leading defense company, Northrop Grumman, has started flight testing of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter equipped with the Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 radar. The radar significantly increases Fire Scout’s detection and tracking of targets. The ability to simultaneously employ multiple modes supports U.S. Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements. This increased capability enables Fire Scout to extend ranges to meet emerging requirements.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is the Navy's next-generation autonomous helicopter. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman's autonomous systems architecture, Fire Scout meets customer requirements for ship-based and land-based autonomous systems. It also has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable ship and from prepared and unprepared landing zones. This enhancement significantly increases range and endurance (more than double) and payload capacity (more than triple).

Operating out of Webster Outlying Field, the MQ-8C’s first flight with the radar was on Feb. 27. Testing began with several weeks of ground testing prior to the first flight and continues to progress as the Navy and Northrop Grumman consider mission expansion opportunities for the platform. To date, Northrop Grumman has delivered 32 of 38 MQ-8Cs to the Navy, all of which will be retrofit with the AN/ZPY-8 radar. The MQ-8C achieved initial operational capability in June 2019 and is scheduled for its first deployment in 2021.

Northrop Grumman is working hard to solve the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of its customers worldwide.