The US Army is considering launching a research study for an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) small enough to be launched from a 155mm artillery piece, while the US Navy and Marine Corps are also studying small tube-launched UAV systems. A basic research effort may be launched by the end of the year.

The army is studying the QuickLook system, under development by the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center as a fire support targeting system for 155mm howitzers. Gunners would use the small vehicle to gather enemy target coordinates and perform battle damage assessment out to 50km (30 miles).

The daylight-only QuickLook air vehicle would use an electro-optical sensor, global positioning system (GPS) and datalink. Project officials are looking for a UAV with a 30min loiter capability accurate to within 20m (65ft) even in a GPS-jamming environment.

The US Navy is also interested in the application. The Office of Naval Research plans to conduct an advanced technology demonstration of an affordable gun-launched surveillance UAV. The vehicle would have a range of up to 139km and would loiter for up to 3h, controlled by a forward observer.

Carolina Unmanned Vehicles is already developing a shoulder-launched unmanned reconnaissance system (SLURS), but the project has had technical problems. SLURS would consist of a 4.5kg (10lb) folding-wing battery-powered air vehicle, tubular launcher and ground control system.

Source: Flight International