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US Navy eyes passive targeting capability for MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS

The US Navy (USN) is planning to introduce an electronic intelligence (ELINT) system onto the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) to enable a capability for passive geo-location and targeting.

In a sources sought notice issued on 4 January, the Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR’s) Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air Systems Program Office (PMA-266) said it intended to procure up to 43 Passive Targeting (PT) hardware kits over the course of five years to detect, classify, and geo-locate surface targets. The USN is currently completing a trade study analysis for the integration of a PT system to assess a suitable hardware solution to meet MQ-8C capability, design, and operational requirements. An initial procurement of PT hardware is planned for the second quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2022.

NAVAIR has initiated a market survey for candidate solutions. Its outline requirements call for a mature (Technology Readiness Level 7) system incorporating a precision direction finding capability and meeting the following size, weight, and power constraints: a maximum volume (processor/receiver) of 2 ft3, a maximum weight (processor, receiver, and antenna) of 100 lb, and an electrical power draw of 28 V DC/max 1,000 W.

Potential bidders with hardware meeting these criteria have been asked to provide additional detail on their technical solutions. This includes antenna field of view/system field of regard, search/scan capability, and frequency bandwidth.

NAVAIR said the required delivery date for the initial PT hardware (laboratory and prototype kits) is no later than 18 months after contract award. The period of performance from contract award to completion of flight test support is anticipated to be approximately 42 months, with a potential 24 months for integration and test support of the selected hardware.

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