Thursday, April 29, 2010

Army Looks to Arm Shadow, Quickly

by Graham Warwick 

If you have a precision-guided weapon weighing 25lb or less (including launcher, wiring, etc), then the US Army wants to hear from you, and quickly. Aviation & Missile Command has issued a request for information on suitable weapon systems that would be ready to field within 12 months of contract award.

blog post photo
Extended-wing RQ-7B (photo: AAI)

And any old system won't do - the Army wants a weapon that can engage stationary and moving vehicles and combatants day and night, with low collateral damage, from a Shadow flying at 60-70kt and 5,000-12,000ft., with the terminal accuracy of  a laser-homing, infrared-imaging or millimetre-wave seeker.

Bidders are to provide cost estimates for potential buys of 250, 500, 1,000 and 2,500 munitions.

At first I thought a guided Hydra-70 rocket like BAE APKWS might work, but not only does it weigh in at around 35lb, it's almost half the length of the UAV itself! Then I remembered General Dynamics' 81mm air-dropped guided mortar, which was recently dropped from a tactical UAV in tests. That should weigh in well under 25lb.

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