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Manned, unmanned helos coordinate missile attack

"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 pilot Lt. Cdr. Thanh Nguyen.

By Richard Tomkins
Manned, unmanned helos coordinate missile attack
An unmanned MQ-8B (left) together with a MH-60S Seahawk. U.S. Navy photo

CORONADO, Calif., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- An unmanned air system has been used as a laser designator platform for an MH-60S Seahawk to fire a Hellfire missile at a moving target.

The U.S. Navy said the test of the MQ-8B Fire Scout took place at a designated live-fire range off the coast of California and successfully demonstrated the operational integration of Navy-manned helicopters and unmanned assets.

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"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."

In the demonstration, the unmanned Fire Scout detected target location and transmitted the data to the MH-60S for targeting. Then it lased the target, which was moving at a speed of 10-15 knots, while the MH-60S moved forward and into position for the running laser-guided missile shot with an AGM-114N.

"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.

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The MQ-8B is made by Northrop Grumman. The MH-60S is a product of Sikorsky, now part of Lockheed Martin.

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