Raytheon is pressing ahead with unmanned air vehicle weaponisation, successfully flight-testing the Small Tactical Munition (STM) at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona recently, the company says.
The 0.6m-long (2ft), 13lb (5.9kg) bomb – the smallest in the company’s extensive weapons complement – was specifically designed for UAV use. The dual-mode, semi-active laser seeker and GPS inertial navigation system enable it to engage fixed and moving targets in all weather conditions, the company says. STM is based in large part on the Griffin missile, a 84cm (33in), 19kg motorised weapon developed two years ago by Raytheon.
During the Yuma trials, two STMs were tested on two separate passes from the company’s home-grown Cobra UAV. The GPS system guided each glide weapon to a mid-course position, from where the design's semi-active laser seeker guided them to their targets, “achieving all test objectives,” Raytheon says.
The US Marine Corps recently released a request for information on options for weaponising its small, quiet Shadow UAV in the near future. “This is perfect for Shadow because it is also very quiet” Raytheon says. “It comes in without any noise whatsoever.” The Cobra was chosen in part for the tests because it is in the same class as Shadow.
The company plans on continuing testing next year with the expectation that the Marines’ RFI will move forward into a request for proposals. US Special Operations command has also expressed interest in precision weapons for small UAVs. “They’re going to want something really fast,” Raytheon says “We want to be ready.” The company estimates needing 12 to 18 months to get STM production lines running at quantity.