Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – A smart battlefield surveillance system that teams-up with a robot helicopter will facilitate amphibious invasions of Chinese-occupied beaches or islands in the South China Sea by the U.S. Navy and Marines.
The U.S. Navy “AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis” (COBRA) system is an airborne mine detection system that became operational a few days ago. COBRA detects and localizes minefields and obstacles when flown over a beach invasion area.
COBRA is in low-rate initial production. It completed a series of developmental tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and Webster Field, Maryland since last year.
It can be integrated with the U.S. Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman. The Block I version of COBRA completed the first phase of initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) on board the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
The Navy said COBRA represents a real step forward for tactical reconnaissance of beach areas. With COBRA, the Navy and Marine Corps can quickly look at a possible landing zone and detect mines and obstacles that endanger an amphibious assault.
Previously, pre-invasion reconnaissance was only possible by landing sailors or Marines on the beach in advance of a landing, exposing them to casualties and revealing an intended landing zone.
The MQ-8B is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.
It features a four-blade main rotor reduces noise and improves lift capacity and performance. It also allows Fire Scout to life a 320 kg payload for short-range missions. The MQ-8B is 7.30 meters long; its width is 1.9 meters and its and its height, 2.96 meters.
The MQ-8B is fitted with stub wings that provide lift and allow it to be outfitted with a variety of weapons.
Among the weapons the drone can deploy are Hellfire missiles; Viper Strike laser-guided glide weapons, and the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a laser-guided 70 mm folding-fin rocket ideal for the modern battlefield.
Fire Scout can also carry up to 91 kg of emergency supplies to troops in the field.
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