Raytheon is working on developing a new class of small weapons designed for unmanned air vehicles like the AAI RQ-7 Shadow used by the US Army and US Marine Corps.
"It's like a baby-enhanced Paveway [global positioning system and laser-guided smart bomb]," says JR Smith, Raytheon's business development director for advanced missiles and unmanned systems, describing the company's new small tactical munition (STM).
The tiny weapon weighs in at just 13.5lb (6.1kg) and is only 22in (56cm) long. The warhead weighs only 7lb, but has over 2,000 fragments. The miniature weapon is equipped with dual-mode guidance, Smith says. It can employ both a digital semi-active laser or can be guided by a global positioning system/inertial navigation system.
The GPS/INS system can be used to hit fixed targets, Smith says. But it can also guide the weapon into a "basket" so that a ground spotter with a laser designator can take over. The laser guidance system also enables the weapon to hit moving targets. In the future, an imaging infrared camera is also a possibility. It also has a sensor that can adjust the height of burst.
The small size of the weapon limits collateral damage in built-up areas, Smith says.
Raytheon has already started guided flight tests of the weapons from a test plane. The next step is to test a full live round, Smith says. After that, Raytheon will work on integrating the weapon onto an operational drone.
"Shadow is our primary objective," Smith says. The Shadow, which is much smaller than a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, is currently unarmed. But the USMC is taking the lead on fielding an armed version of the Shadow while the army is cooperating on the effort.
"What they're looking at doing is putting something 25lb or less under each wing," Smith says.
Raytheon is working with the Naval Air Systems Command to participate in that effort.
But Raytheon's target market extends beyond the Shadow and the company believes its new weapons could arm an aircraft as small as Boeing Insitu's RQ-21 Integrator, Smith says.
By the end of the year, the company hopes the STM will be integrated onto two operational platforms.