US Navy will Deploy COBRA System that Hunts Down PLAN Submarines and Mines

By | May 17, 2017 11:42 PM EDT

MQ-8B Fire Scout aborad a U.S. Navy warship. (Photo : US Navy)

The U.S. Navy will soon deploy a new sensor system aboard its fleet of Northrop Grumman "MQ-8 Fire Scout" unmanned autonomous helicopters designed to detect submarines of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) lurking in littoral waters where large warships can't venture.

The sensor, identified as the "AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system" can also detect naval mines.

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According to the navy, COBRA's mission is to conduct unmanned aerial tactical reconnaissance in the littoral battlespace for detection and localization of minefields, as well as submarines. MQ-8B Fire Scouts equipped with COBRA will be launched from the navy's new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), of which two classes are in operation: the Freedom-class and the Independence-class.

"COBRA is currently in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation on the MQ-8B and is projected to reach Initial Operational Capability this year," said Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager.

COBRA will allow an LCS and its crew to detect mines and submarines in littoral waters where it's difficult to maneuver from a safe distance away.

Although U.S. Navy LCSs are designed for shallow water operations, the threat of naval mines in these waters can hinder the operations of these warships. Deploying COBRA aboard Fire Scouts greatly increases the odds of finding and detecting enemy mines and submarines near the surface.

A small, pilotless helicopter detachment able aboard LCSs is a key part of the Navy's emerging strategy for surface warfare, countermine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

The MQ-8B, which is only seven meters long, can fly at over 200 km/h and remain on station for up to five hours. It uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology to help locate and identify ships.

The Navy currently has more than 20 MQ-8B Fire Scouts in the inventory.

COBRA will be embarked on LCSs as part of the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Mission Package (MP).

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