“The AN/ZPY-8 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.”
Melissa Packwood, program manager, tactical autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman
Operating out of Webster Outlying Field, the MQ-8C’s first flight with the radar occurred Feb. 27. 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 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.
Naval News comment: AN/ZPY-8 is also known as Leonardo’s Osprey MM multi-mode surveillance radar. It is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) surveillance radar. According to Leonardo, Osprey MM is particularly well suited to unmanned air systems (UAS) operations, with very high reliability for persistent surveillance, and difficult target detection capability from high altitude, facilitating platform line of sight (LoS) communications and improved platform fuel efficiency.