The US Army is exploring potential requirements for an anti-radiation missile for carriage by its larger unmanned air vehicles to counter hostile UAV systems.

The concept calls for the anti-radiation missile to target a hostile UAV system's ground control station by following its command datalink. The option is one of a number of new weapon concepts being studied by the service as it prepares for the introduction of its new General Atomics Sky Warrior and Northrop Grumman RQ-8B Firescout UAVs.

The studies are also examining potential weaponisation of the AAI RQ-7B Shadow 200 UAV.

Lt Col Keith Hirschman, manager of ground manoeuvre unmanned air systems for the US Army UAV programme office, says that while no current requirement exists to weaponise Shadow, "invariably anything that is in the army that works well, somebody is going to talk it one step upwards and that is what we are looking at. We have several studies going on, several platforms have the requirement for weaponisation. Others don't, like Shadow. There is currently no requirement for Shadow to carry weapons but we are doing studies in anticipation that somebody will want to put something on it and use it in combat."

The development of an anti-UAV capability by the service anticipates that US systems will become an important operational target, Hirschman says. "Invariably, someone is going to come after unmanned aircraft after seeing how effective they can be for our armed forces. The day will come when somebody will target unmanned aircraft just to take away the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability".

Other anti-UAV capabilities being studied include the use of electronic warfare measures to spoof and jam enemy systems, as well as instigate a loss of command datalink.