The US Army has purchased an undisclosed number of Raytheon Coyote unmanned air vehicles, coupled with Ku-band radio frequency system fire control radars to use as counter-drone defence.
The Coyote is a tube-launched vehicle designed to chase down enemy UAVs and destroy them in flight with a small fragmentation warhead. It is directed to its target by the fire control radar.
"We are currently under funding by the US Army to develop and deploy these devices by the end of this year,” said Thomas Bussing, Raytheon’s vice-president of advanced missile systems, at Farnborough. "We had a demonstration with the army where we flew 12. Eleven were successful. One had a launch misfire, but the other 11 all hit their targets."
The armed drones are capable of taking down quadcopters, and other types of Class 1 and Class 2 unmanned air systems, he says. Indeed, knocking down quadcopters from the sky was more challenging than it appears, Bussing adds.
"These quadcopters are actually fairly challenging. They have a resin structure, which is actually very difficult to penetrate," he said. "They are very resilient to small arms fire and so forth. But the warheads are very capable of destroying them."
The Coyotes can be launched from the ground, air or a ship. The UAS can be flown individually or netted together in swarms, and are adaptable for missions including surveillance, electronic warfare and counter-UAS missions. They can also be used as a swarm to attack groups of boats or targets ahead of a shore assault, says Bussing.
The Coyote airframe is exportable, but its electronics and warhead are not, he says.