By Peter La Franchi at Farnborough air show
BAE Systems is studying options for arming its Herti advanced unmanned air vehicle, including the Northrop Grumman Viper Strike guided munition.
The company says it is still at an early stage of defining an armed weapons configuration, but is in talks with a variety of ordnance manufacturers about freefall release options, but excluding rocket-launched types. Studies are also under way on building hardpoints on to the Herti airframe.
According to Martin Rowe-Willcocks, business development executive for military autonomous systems, at least two and potentially four hardpoints are possible, with both fuselage and wing positions being assessed.
The addition of hardpoints would also allow for the carriage of podded special-mission payloads, with this including both sensors and possibly logistics modules.
Rowe-Willcocks says the weaponisation studies represent "very early concept work" that will "allow us to understand how we could get to that stage if the customer requires it".
BAE is, meanwhile, considering expanding the Herti family to include medium- and high-altitude, long-endurance variants.
The Herti configuration unveiled at Farnborough has a 12m (39.3ft) wingspan and features twin fixed side-staring 12 megapixel wide- angle cameras that use mosaic imaging techniques to identify targets and cue the narrowband, turret-mounted electro-optical/infrared camera.