Fire Scout expands ship-based intelligence gathering
A recent US Navy and Northrop Grumman exercise has seen the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter successfully sent sensor data to the cockpit display of a MH-60 helicopter. According to Northrop Grumman, the Fire Scout effectively extended the range and area of ship-based intelligence gathering operations during the exercise, acting as an expansion of onboard sensors, with crew members aboard a nearby US Coast Guard boat also able to view Fire Scout sensor data in real time using a remote terminal.
The demonstration took place 25 October 2011 near Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., and will pave the way for improving the speed at which field commanders can make decisions. According to the company, until now, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by Fire Scout has been sent to its host ship for further dissemination. This new capability improves Fire Scout's communications relay function by allowing multiple units to share real-time information to coordinate actions without delay.
Northrop Grumman said that theFire Scout features a modular architecture that accommodates a variety of electro-optical, infrared and communications payloads. These payloads provide ground- and ship-based commanders with high levels of situational awareness and precision targeting support. The system's ability to operate from all air-capable ships makes it particularly well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, search and rescue, antipiracy operations, reconnaissance and port security.
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