The US-based Dragonfly Pictures Inc company has used one of its prototype DP-5X vertical take-off and landing UAVs to demonstrate airborne live firing of a Metal Storm GE40 40mm grenade launching gun system.

Multiple live fire demonstrations were carried out on behalf of the US Defence Advanced Research 27-28 September at the US Air National Guard Warren Grove bombing range in New Jersey.

Metal Storm says in a statement released 6 October that the flight demonstrations included “firing from the hover position at various altitudes as well as forward flight ‘strafing’ runs…

“Initial tests were conducted from the DP-5X UAV in strap-down mode as well as untethered hover sighting shots. Hover shots from various altitudes were followed by a concluding forward speed flight with shots that targeted a vehicle on the firing range”.

Metal Storm senior vice president for US operations Peter Faulkner has told Flight Unmanned that the DP-5X UAV used in the demonstration was one of the aircraft built for the US Defence Advanced Projects Agency as its contender for the US Army’s Future Combat System Class III UAV requirement.

Dragonfly and Metal Storm previously demonstrated ground-based firing of a twin 40mm gun system aboard a Dragonfly DP-4X aircraft with rotors turning in May 2004. For that demonstration the Metal Storm guns were mounted on either side of the helicopter fuselage.

Faulkner says the DP-5X demonstrations saw two 40mm guns mounted below the UAV nose in a fixed, downwards angled position.

Sighting was carried out using a video camera located on the forward UAV fuselage, with this enabling man in the loop oversight of the target selection and engagement processes. The fire control system was a Metal Storm FC440 operated remotely over the aircraft datalink.

Faulkner says that 50 Metal Storm Mk16-KE kinetic energy rounds were taken to the range but not all of these were used.

The demonstration fulfilled all of Metal Storm’s existing contractual obligations to Dragonfly says Faulkner, with final test data now in the process of collection and evaluation. All data deliverables for Dragonfly and DARPA have already been handed over.

There is “no follow-on work currently scheduled” with Dragonfly however, Faulkner says Metal Storm hopes the demonstration leads to follow on opportunities to advance the gun system into a full UAV weaponisation option. “There has been very strong interest”.