Navy Test Opens Door for Helicopters to Control Fire Scout UAV from Air

The U.S. Navy recently conducted tests during which it was able to successfully transmit images collected by the Northop Grumman-built Fire Scout unmanned aircraft to Lockheed Martin‘s new HM-60R Sea Hawk helicopter during a joint operation, according to a report in AOL Defense.

Carlo Munoz writes that Navy deputy program manager Robert Kimble told reporters that if such test success continues, the drone could be further integrated into the HM-60R’s operations.

Lockheed’s website says that the helicopter is the Navy’s primary anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones.

Currently, only personnel at the helm of surface ship control centers are able to control Fire Scouts. Kimble said successful data transfer drills could enable the Naval Air Systems Command to build a Fire Scout command and control system on aboard HM-60Rs.

That would mean mid-air control from the helicopter, which would mean the Fire Scout could fly wherever the MH-60R could fly. The unmanned aircraft’s range is currently limited by the reach of the shipboard system, Munoz says.

Issues persist, however, ranging from the ability to fit all the command and control equipment into the MH-60R to generating enough power to remotely operate the aircraft. 

The MH-60R currently is unable to generate the necessary power. “We’re working that issue,” Kimble said.

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