The trend is clear and much defined – armed forces around the world have understood that loitering weapon systems are essential in suppressing threats in a vast area.
These systems are usually being developed under curtains of secrecy, but from time to time the developers are releasing some data.
Recently we had an indication of the wider effort to develop loitering weapon systems. This happened when Rheinmetall Defence and its partner, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), revealed that they had successfully tested the new WABEP unmanned weapon system.
WABEP is defined as a “weapon system for standoff engagement of individual and point targets”. It consists of a Rheinmetall-made KZO unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle and a Harop attack drone made by IAI.
According to the companies, during the test flights the Harop attack drone and the reconnaissance and wireless data transmission components in the Rheinmetall KZO system operated in networked mode.
The Harop has an extended loitering capability and can be used to engage high-value targets – reacting quickly, with extreme precision and situational flexibility. When linked with the KZO, the companies say, it is possible to abort an attack mission just before impact.
The companies say that during the recently conducted test flights, the Harop and KZO combination was successfully demonstrated in a variety of operational scenarios.
The KZO detected and identified a large number of landmarks and infrastructure installations, as well as stationary and moving targets, transmitting the target data to Harop via the WABEP combined system computer.
And when talking about “automated killing systems”, it is the best opportunity to mention the parallel effort of weapon manufacturers to offer special weapon systems tailored for unmanned air systems (UAS) in all their sizes and shapes.
And as I said, we can assess that the effort is much more extensive and that Israeli companies will contribute their know-how since they have been involved in that segment for many years, since IAI developed the Harpy attack drone based on a German-made platform.
Rafael, one of Israel’s leading manufacturers of weapon systems, is the first to admit that it is considering adapting some of the weapon systems it produces for use on UAS.
The Israeli company has developed some very advanced weapon systems, such as the Python-5 and
The growing use in the world of armed UAS for different types of missions has spurred the evaluation of the international market for these downsized weapon systems.
I am sure that the market will offer many such weapon systems that will answer the growing need.