Northrop Grumman chosen to install Leonardo surface-search radar aboard Navy MQ-8C unmanned helicopters

June 10, 2020
The Leonardo Osprey MM AESA multi-mode surveillance radar is for helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will upgrade a sophisticated surface-search radar system on as many as eight of the U.S. Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout shipboard unmanned helicopters.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced their intention Monday to award an order to the Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems segment in San Diego to provide as many as eight AN/ZPY-8 radar aircraft-kits (A-kits) for MQ-8C UAVs.

The order will include five additional academic classroom and simulation training teaches with options for additional teaches for the MQ-8C AN/ZPY-8 radar and Minotaur operator interface.

The amount of the upcoming order has yet to be negotiated, and should be awarded by April 2021.

Related: Navy MQ-8C unmanned helicopter hits initial operational capability; ready for operations and training

The AN/ZPY-8 Osprey MM radar aboard the Navy MQ-8C fleet is from Leonardo MW Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland. Northrop Grumman is the designer and systems integrator of the MQ-8C Fire Scout, an unmanned version of the Bell 407 helicopter from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. The manned version of the Bell 407 seats seven, can carry a useful load of 2,347 pounds, flies as fast as 140 knots, and has a range of 324 nautical miles.

The long-range MQ-8C is designed to fly from the decks of destroyers and other naval surface warships to extend the surveillance and reconnaissance range of the Navy's surface ships that are operating away from aircraft carriers and land-based aircraft.

The Navy chose Leonardo MW Ltd. to provide the MQ-8C radar in 2016. Leonardo MW is an arm of the Leonardo-Finmeccania corporation in Rome, which oversees the company's aerospace, defence and security operations in the United Kingdom.

Related: Navy works with Northrop Grumman to add Link 16 tactical networking capability to MQ-8C unmanned helicopter

The Leonardo Osprey MM is a multi-mode surveillance radar for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that provides second-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance capability. It brings together wide-azimuth and -elevation electronically scanned fixed antennas with a compact radar signal processor and multi-channel receiver.

Employing high-frequency radio waves, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at long ranges, at night, and in poor visibility to detect distant threats.

The small-size Osprey MM provides high-performance sea surveillance against difficult targets, as well as land surveillance with wide-swath high-resolution ground mapping, small and low-speed ground target indication, air-to-air surveillance, tracking, and intercept. It can interleave modes rapidly and provide scan-independent beam steering.

Related: Northrop Grumman to install Leonardo surface-search radar aboard Navy MQ-8C unmanned helicopters

Osprey MM comes with a variety of antenna sizes, depending on the azimuth coverage to facilitate the MQ-8C's operation to and from unprepared surfaces. It offers persistent surveillance and target detection from high altitudes to enhance MQ-8C fuel efficiency.

Osprey MM’s flexible configuration, with antenna size and installation options, its low SWaP, air cooled line replaceable units (LRU), and its open standard interfaces all simplify its integration. At the core of the Osprey MM’s AESA radar design is its ability to tolerate individual element failure. It offers reduced maintenance.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems online at, Leonardo MW Ltd. at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

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