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Mini-weapons for small UAV's

bobbymike

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Mini-Weapons Add Punch To Small UAVs

Mar 3, 2011

By David Hambling
Washington

A new generation of highly accurate mini-weapons is being developed for small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use against personnel and light vehicles. One factor in development is the need to weaponize small UAVs such as the RQ-7 Shadow from AAI Corp., in use by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, which cannot carry a 100-lb. Hellfire missile. Raytheon’s latest offering in this area is the Small Tactical Munition (STM), a 13-lb. glide bomb with GPS and semi-active laser guidance that can hit fixed and moving targets in all weather. Development has been completed in an approach that Don Newman, program director for advanced weapons at Raytheon, calls “Lamott”—lay a missile on the table. “We build a missile with company money, then demonstrate it to people who might be interested,” he says.

The gamble is worthwhile because of the potential market—the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are interested in arming their Shadow UAVs with the weapon. Raytheon successfully tested the STM against targets. Newman says it is not a prototype but a producible weapon, and the company can take immediate orders. Being small does not mean the STM is cheap. “When you have a precision weapon with GPS and seeker, most of the cost is in the nose,” says Newman. “You’ve got the same precision as a larger weapon, just in a smaller package.” Mass production would bring costs down, and the STM could also increase the weapon load of the larger RQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, both from General Atomics. “You could replace one Hellfire missile with 6-8 STMs,” Newman says. Lockheed Martin is working on a small missile for the Army’s Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) program. This will be a mobile counter-rocket, artillery and mortar system with a range of at least 2.5 km (1.5 mi.). The EAPS defense will be radar-guided, with two interception options under consideration: a 50-mm projectile and the missile being developed by Lockheed Martin, which is 2 ft. long, 1.5-in. in diameter and weighs 5 lb.

“We are pushing the limits with this,” says EAPS Product Manager Chris Murphy, who is not aware of smaller guided missiles. Miniaturizing the components was a challenge Murphy compares to the technology used to downsize mobile phones and medical imaging devices. “The key is in the electronics and the receiver,” he says. “These are not off-the-shelf components.” The missile will be a kinetic interceptor with semi-active radar guidance. Development has progressed well. Successful hardware-in-the-loop tests will be followed by flight tests this summer. In 2012 the missile will be tested against targets. At that point, says Murphy, the aim is to have something that is “nearly tactical.” Lockheed Martin and the Army see other applications for the missile, including small UAVs. “There’s an option for a semi-active laser seeker,” says Murphy, with active millimeter-wave guidance as a possibility. With an explosive warhead it could engage ground targets as well as enemy UAVs. Other platforms might include fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, where it would be a self-defense or offensive weapon. It might even become an infantry weapon, weighing a fifth as much as the FGM-148 Javelin guided antiarmor missile, made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Textron Defense Systems is one of three companies (the others are Aerovironment and IAT) competing for the U.S. Air Force’s Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (Lmams) contract. Lmams will be a 3-lb. weapon that a dismounted soldier can launch from behind cover to seek and identify distant targets via a video link and destroy them. Textron’s entry is the Tactical Remote Aerial Munition (TRAM). Its advantages include a 1-hr. loiter time, twice what is required, and an advanced warhead. Software permits the operator to lock TRAM on to a maneuvering target. The Air Force contract calls for three weapons from each manufacturer to be delivered in April for target tests. An order for the winning design should follow soon after.
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Pretty neat stuff.
 

Avimimus

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So a B-52 could carry >5000 guided bombs now ;D

Anyway - very interesting. I expect the big change will be small, relatively autonomous and maneuverable UAVs which are capable of getting close enough to a target to accurately deliver an unguided warhead. I wonder how many years we have?
 

bobbymike

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Raytheon video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKVwdPd4nlc&feature=related
 

Lauge

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Avimimus said:
I expect the big change will be small, relatively autonomous and maneuverable UAVs which are capable of getting close enough to a target to accurately deliver an unguided warhead. I wonder how many years we have?

As long as noone starts hooking them up to Skynet.....

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

Nik

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Well, below a certain size, a gun's machinery is dead-weight, hence rockets...


Hmm: Is pistol-calibre 'Metal Storm' still extant ??
 

Apophenia

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Nik said:
Hmm: Is pistol-calibre 'Metal Storm' still extant ??

It would seem not, going by their website. No mention of the 9mm version. Closest in calibre is probably the MAUL 18mm (12 gauge).
 

Grey Havoc

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The original RFI from February 2010, along with a couple of 2011/2012 budget documents:

http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2012/Other/stamped/1105232BB_7_PB_2012.pdf
http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2012/Other/stamped/1160428BB_7_PB_2012.pdf
 

Tony Williams

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The latest and presumably cheapest development in the field of light guided munitions for UAVs is the 81mm RCGM (Roll Controlled Guided Mortar), a joint project between BAE and GD-OTS. This basically consists of a standard BAE L41 mortar bomb with the fuze replaced by a GD-OTS fuze+GPS guidance+steering fin unit, plus extended tail fins. It was successfully tested over a year ago, achieving an average miss distance of about 7 metres in 16 drops from altitudes of between 980 and 4000 m. Weight of the basic bomb is 4.2 kg, so the RCGM is going to be around 5 kg, and it contains 0.75 kg of HE.
 

jsport

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Nemesis all right, Sign me up to carry one on Hindu Kush patrol... especially when it doesn't work.

oh forgot ..was carrying the backup...on my back as well.
 

Avimimus

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jsport said:
Nemesis all right, Sign me up to carry one on Hindu Kush patrol... especially when it doesn't work.

oh forgot ..was carrying the backup...on my back as well.

It would be great for a guerilla though - you can hit a base from anywhere in a 12 kilometre radius and abandon the launcher (unlike a mortar). A single round would have a high PK - so it would ease logistics compared to mortars (despite the greater weight of each round).

The ideal thing would be to split the launcher into two stage (booster and sustaining) so that the load could be carried by multiple infantry.
 

cluttonfred

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Would the Aerovironment entry perhaps be a refined version of Switchblade?

http://youtu.be/-dgvBb5ke-E

bobbymike said:
Textron Defense Systems is one of three companies (the others are Aerovironment and IAT) competing for the U.S. Air Force’s Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (Lmams) contract.
 

bobbymike

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http://defensetech.org/2014/10/07/textron-test-fires-new-precision-glide-bombs/
 

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