MQ-8B drone used as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S helicopter’s Hellfire missile shot

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, fires an AGM-114M Hellfire missile, April 5, 2016, near San Clemente Island, California, during a live-fire combat training exercise. HSM-35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, flies the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/Released)

U.S. Navy MQ-8B UAS (unmanned air system) was used as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S Seahawk to fire a Hellfire missile.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (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 Seahawk and MQ-8B Fire Scout composite detachment aboard Independence class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

On Sept. 14, an MQ-8B Fire Scout launched from NAS Point Mugu performed “buddy lasing” for an MH-60S helicopter with HSC-23 launched from NAS North Island.

Indeed, during a test, the Fire Scout drone detected a dynamic target, moving at approximately 10-15 knots inside the live-fire range off the coast of Point Mugu and transmitted its location to the MH-60S.

Once all target requirements were met, the Fire Scout lased the target while the MH-60S moved forward and into position to successfully fire an AGM-114N Hellfire missile against the “slow mover.”

“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, in a U.S. Navy release. “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 U.S. Navy considers the use of the “hunter-killer” team in future deployments a game-changer as it greatly expands the range and effectiveness of the MH-60S while keeping the helicopter out of harm’s way.

The Fire Scout has been already used in Afghanistan, off Africa (during anti-piracy ops) and during the air war in Libya: one MQ-8B drone copter was shot down during an ISR mission in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

150501-N-VO234-059 SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 1, 2015) An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).  Fort Worth is on a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released)
150501-N-VO234-059
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 1, 2015) An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). Fort Worth is on a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released)

Top image (showing an MH-60R) credit: U.S. Navy

 

About David Cenciotti 3689 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.