Military Drones Can Go After Submarines Now

Northrop Grumman and Ultra test submarine detection hardware on drone surrogate 1 photo
Photo: Northrop Grumman
In a very short period of time, drones have changed our lives. And we’re not talking here about the ones delivering goods to our doorsteps, or the ones we use to film some crazy stunts, but those military machines that can be deployed to alter human history at a touch of a remote button.
Presently, a large number of nations used drones for military operations, but the U.S. seems by far the most advanced. The country’s drone arsenal probably counts in the thousands of these machines equipped for a variety of tasks. Soon, one other type could join them, this one targeted specifically at submarines.

Back in October last year, two companies, Northrop Grumman and UK-based Ultra fitted a crewed Bell 407 helicopter with the sonobuoys, receivers and processors that could make it capable of conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The success of the test was announced by Northrop Grumman at the beginning of February.

The company used a Bell 407 helicopter for the test because it forms the basis of its MQ-8C Fire Scout drone. Deployed for use in 2019, it is primarily used to provide reconnaissance, and if need be fire support, for troops on the ground.

Using Ultra’s hardware, the Bell 407 used for the test became the first vertical takeoff surrogate drone to be used to conduct a large area multistatic acoustic search. Technically, Northrop Grumman is doing this just because, as for now the “U.S. Navy has not yet identified a clear requirement” for the technology.

“Adding an ASW capability to Fire Scout’s existing multi-mission capabilities would further enhance this highly-versatile platform,” said in a statement Dan Redman, Fire Scout maritime mission expansion lead, Northrop Grumman.

“This ASW capability would offer commanders flexibility to employ not only UAS systems in this particular ASW role, but also utilize the increased availability of crewed aircraft more incisively against an expanded mission set. This would increase the total available effect of the manned/unmanned teamed force mix.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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