MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated by the US Navy (USN) will be outfitted with their first wide-area maritime surveillance radars system by December 2014, industry representatives told IHS Jane's.
MQ-8B prime contractor Northrop Grumman awarded a USD33 million contract to Telephonics Corp to provide 12 AN/ZPY-4 radar systems for the Fire Scout Vertical Take-off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) rapid-deployment capability programme.
The AN/ZPY-4 is based on Telephonics' RDR-1700B radar, an all-weather multimode maritime system. It contains a ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) mode for tracking targets at sea, in the littorals, and on the ground, and a solid-state amplifier to increase reliability of the system and reduce weight of the device, Joe Battaglia, CEO and president of the company, told IHS Jane's . The new radar also incorporates a processor for receiving data from the aircraft's Automatic Identification System (AIS) to help it distinguish unknown craft from commercial vessels and naval ships carrying transponders.
"This radar, weighing 68 pounds, is doing the job that radars weighing four to five times that amount were doing," Battaglia said.
Northrop Grumman selected the 1 kW X-band search radar for its lightweight, high-performance detection capabilities, officials said. Telephonics' offering beat out a radar bid from Selex as well as several other systems that were demonstrated in 2009.
"Telephonics ultimately provided the best fit and capability for Fire Scout," said George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman's vice president for tactical unmanned systems.
Telephonics is on contract to deliver 12 radar systems - nine operational and three spares - to Northrop Grumman by December 2014.
MQ-8B currently carries the FLIR BriteStar II electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, which provides full motion video (FMV) and a maritime AIS sensor to help identify targets.
"The added radar functionality will provide wide-area situational awareness capability to the platform," said Vardoulakis.