of VTOL UAVS are looking beyond 2.75" rockets, designing
their vertiflight platforms as flying remotely controlled weapon
stations. The concept is to keep the warfighter out of harms
way and let the machines take all the risk. Ultimately, such
system could provide expeditionary forces and front line warfighter
with a portable compact attack helicopter. The unmanned helicopter
will provide the ability to approach the target at high speed,
from any direction and deliver a contained lethal salvo into
the specific target, regardless of elevation or how well it
is defended from ground approach. This is especially important
as today’s conflicts waged at urban settings.
example of such system is the Tactical Aerospace Group (TAG)
is introducing recoilless weapons package for their aircraft
as part of ongoing UCAV weaponization programs, integrating
a new recoilless technology developed by Recoilless Technologies
International of Australia. Initially, the new mounts will be
built to carry 7.62mm machine guns, but future versions will
be designed for different calibers, including grenade launchers.
Another weapon recently demonstrated in live firing is the
Metal-Storm 40mm weapon system which flew on the DP-5X prototype
Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
last autumn (2006). This weapon is optimized for UAV applications,
by its inherent high firepower to weight ratio resulting in
a lighter weapon with greater firepower, compared to other weapons.
During recent tests the vehicle fired the lightweight electronic
weapon from hovering position and through forward speed flights,
performing “strafing” runs. The Metal Storm technology
offers several advantages for arming UAVs, specifically for
the smaller UAVs where payload weights and weapon size and shape
are critical design factors, impacting on the mission endurance
and payload capacity remaining for mission critical avionics.
The electronic operation and low recoil generated by the Metal
Storm launcher offers inherent weight advantages.
Northrop Grumman is developing the Fire
Scout (MQ-8B) as a Vertical Takeoff UAV (VTUAV), operable
on land or from surface vessels. The US Navy is acquiring the
MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV to fulfill the service’s requirement
for a tactical UAV capable of operating in the shipboard environment.
With vehicle endurance greater than six hours, Fire Scout will
be capable of continuous operations providing coverage over
110 nautical miles from the launch site. A baseline payload
that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser designator,
enables Fire Scout to perform different roles. These include
finding tactical targets, tracking and designating these accurately,
providing targeting data to strike platforms and perform battle
damage assessment. FireScout was also selected for the US Army
FCS Class IV UAV, offering future units of action a flexible,
weaponized ISR and attack platform.
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