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The USN, with support from Northrop Grumman, has commenced flight testing of the MQ-8C FIRE SCOUT equipped with the Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 radar, the company announced on 8 May.

The AN/ZPY-8 radar significantly increases FIRE SCOUT’s detection and tracking of targets. The ability to simultaneously employ multiple modes supports US Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements,” commented Melissa Packwood, Northrop Grumman’s Program Manager, Tactical Autonomous Systems. “This increased capability enables FIRE SCOUT to extend ranges to meet emerging requirements.

The MQ-8C’s first flight with the radar occurred in February – testing began with several weeks of ground test 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 retrofitted 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.

The FIRE SCOUT UAS is scheduled for its first deployment next year. (Photo: USN)

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