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.
Top image (showing an MH-60R) credit: U.S. Navy
What a great way for LCS to engage swarms.
I dont get it…the seahawk already has a laser designator to fire its own to fire hellfires, range of the missile is 3 miles. Fire and forget missile would be even better to take out massing fast boats.
Hopefully the Navy will put a laser-designator on their new MQ-25A Stingray. It ought to be able to do more than refuelling. Well, soon enough the F-35B/C will be able to target for all kinds of platforms, and all kinds of weapons. From Hellfire to Standard, Harpoon to Kongsberg NJSM. Undoubtable long-range cruise and hypersonic missiles too. I’ll admit U.S. superior firepower really scares me! Glad we can share it/combine it with NATO and Japan.
These integrated systems will really bring firepower to the South China and Baltic Seas. With weapons like these, especially the F-35 (Data Link and lasers), Russia and China will be put on the run if confronted by what are far superior U.S. and NATO forces. When Putin or Xi tries something they can expect a very bloody nose – or something far worse! Especially Russia. Their hot air talk is getting real tiresome.