Army completed firing tests of the Northrop Grumman
precision munitions, fired from an IAI/Northrop Grumman Hunter UAV.
Viper Strike is a derivative of the BAT "brilliant
Attack munitions", which
uses a semi-active laser guidance. The new weapon is designed for
operation over built-up and urban area, where visibility and collateral
damage risks restrict the use of flat trajectory attacks from the air
(such as with the Hellfire missile). In the tests, the new weapon scored 7
direct hits out of nine launches. Various types of tactical targets were
engaged included pickup trucks, tanks using countermeasures and multiple
During the initial round of tests, four
inert munitions carrying flight data recorders were dispensed to verify
system performance. For the actual demonstration, nine tactical
munitions fitted with laser sensors developed by Elbit Systems and
IAI/MBT Division, and live warheads, were deployed against a recognized
set of simulated enemy targets. Seven of the nine scored direct hits,
rendering their targets tactically inoperable. The remaining two
munitions missed their targets by a few feet but still inflicted
measurable damage. The causes of these two misses are being analyzed in
detail along with the rest of the data.
were part of a program designed to
demonstrate the operational capability of the Hunter/Viper Strike
integrated system. According to Emmitt Gibson, V.P. for precision
munitions at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, the
demonstration validated the Viper Strike concept and provides the US
Army with an armed UAV with a lethal precision strike capability.
method of operation was already proven successful in Afghanistan, when
general Atomics Predator UAVs, operated by the CIA and the US Air
Force, have fired Hellfire missiles from high altitude. It is believed
to participate in a similar deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom, as
part of the SSM and SAM suppression missions and in precision strikes
against high priority targets.