Helicopter sea combat squadrons have the only established capability to combine manned and unmanned aircraft operations in the fleet. Here an MH-60s from HSC-23 prepares to land on the USS Coronado with an unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout. Photo by US Navy
In the modern Navy that increasingly favors networked sensor coverage, advanced weaponry, increased range, and increased persistence from its aviation assets, how does the helicopter sea combat (HSC) community stretch its capabilities to contribute meaningfully to the naval warfighting needs of the future? The unsettling answer likely will not lie in manipulations of the existing MH-60S weapon system, but instead in the investment in a future, combined manned/unmanned weapon system yet to be designed.