Alliant Techsystems has confirmed its intention to bid for a US Army requirement to rapidly field a low-cost precision guided munition.

The company's Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket (GATR), which has been developed in partnership with Israel's Elbit Systems, will be tested in November with a Bell Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed scout.

To be conducted for the army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, the work will be followed next year by a separate demonstration for the service's joint attack munition systems programme office. The body in late August approached industry with a request to increase the number of "stowed kills" on its deployed OH-58Ds by fiscal year 2012.

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior - US Army 
© US Army

With a claimed range of over 8km (4.3nm) when launched from a helicopter at sea level, the 2.75in (70mm) diameter GATR has already undergone numerous ground and airborne tests, including lock-on-before-launch firings from a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. These have demonstrated precision accuracy to a circular error of probability of below 1m (3.28ft), ATK says.

 GATR rocket - ATK
© Alliant Techsystems
GATR has previously been test fired from a Black Hawk

ATK provides the rocket's propulsion system and mid-body warhead, while Elbit supplies its semi-active laser seeker and guidance equipment. The weapon's smart fuze makes it suitable for use against fixed, stationary and moving targets, including lightly armoured vehicles.

Sled testing of the system's penetrating warhead will conclude later this month, says Eric Isaacson, ATK's director, rocket programmes. The weapon will then undergo fresh firings at the White Sands test range in New Mexico, including against a manoeuvring target, he says. "Operational evaluation in a warzone" is a later objective for the company, he adds.

Speaking at the DSEi exhibition in London earlier this month, Isaacson said: "I think we're going to be competitive on price and superior on range" in the US Army competition. ATK is expected to face rival bids from domestic suppliers including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and also potentially from European manufacturer Thales.

ATK believes the GATR is also suitable for integration with Boeing's AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and Eurocopter products, and is already "in discussions" with original equipment manufacturers in the rotorcraft sector, Isaacson says.

The company believes the weapon could also be used to strike targets from a maximum range of between 12km and 20km when fired from a fixed-wing platform, and displayed a model of a Cessna Caravan carrying the type at DSEi.

In addition to the pending demonstrations for the US Army, Isaacson says the GATR design has also attracted interest from parties including the US Air Force and Air National Guard, and from an undisclosed international customer. The latter has asked about its capabilities both from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, he says, and adds: "we've responded to a couple of requests for information".

The ATK/Elbit GATR system is also being promoted in the UK by local firm Ferranti Technologies.

Source: Flight International