PICTURE & VIDEO: Remora weapon for tactical UAV bombers

Weaponizing unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) is nothing new. As far back as World War II, the US Army Air Corps converted B-24 Liberators into unmanned cruise missiles guided by remote control from another aircraft. The US Air Force equipped RQ-1 Predators with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles 11 years ago, as our friend Richard Whittle has chronicled.

What is new is a burst of interest in weaponizing tactical UAVs, such as the AAI Corp RQ-7B Shadow and, perhaps, even the Boeing/Insitu RQ-21A Integrator. Treaty reviews delayed the process for about a year, but those concerns were tidied up in late July. At AUSA, the interest in sub-10kg-class munitions tailored for medium-sized UAVs was apparent everywhere. Not only were there the munitions we’ve already known about — ATK’s Hatchet, BAE Systems’ Cutlass, MBDA’s SABER and Raytheon’s small tactical munition (STM). There is also one surprise.

In the exhibit booth belonging to the rapid response/irregular warfare directorate — a division of the office of the secretary of defence — sat a new UAV called Remora. This is what it looks like.


DSCN0343.JPGWe didn’t spot the Remora UAV until the booth had mostly cleared out, but a helpful video (shown below) explained its background and purpose. The UAV was actually itself a guided bomb, which is designed to be dropped by another tactical UAV. It was part of an OSD-funded demonstration called precision acquisition and weaponized system (PAWS). The Remora appears to be the outcome of this Boeing miniature munition awarded to Boeing in 2009.

Interestingly, the army’s unmanned air systems gurus still aren’t buying into the weaponizing UAV business. That interest belongs exclusively right now to the US Marine Corps and Special Operations Command. The army still wants the RQ-7 to perform only long-endurance reconnaissance missions, and carrying relatively heavy weapons limits its range. But the Marines are pressing forward with launching an 18-month demonstration, with the acquisition of a new type of miniature munition likely to follow. At that point, the army can change its mind –  without the consequence of having to invest its own funds to develop and qualify a new weapon.  



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