Raytheon has successfully completed a series of firing tests in both hot and cold temperature extremes of the Talon laser-guided rocket for the UAE army’s AH-64D Longbow Apaches. The program, which Raytheon and Emirates Advanced Instruments (EAI) began developing together in May 2008, is moving toward the first airborne firings. Those firings are to be undertaken by a UAE army Apache helicopter here in the Emirates in the first quarter of next year.
The UAE has an initial requirement for 5,000 to 10,000 Talons. Initial batches are to be produced by Raytheon in the U.S. from the middle of next year, but technology will be transferred to EAI so that production can be continued in the UAE. For Raytheon this agreement helps increase the company’s footprint in the region and provides a model for possible future co-development programs. For EAI in particular, and the UAE in general, the deal furthers the drive to widen the technological and industrial capabilities in the Emirates. EAI is to build Talon for overseas customers.
Talon is a low-cost, laser-guidance system that fits on the front of standard 2.75-inch air-launched rockets, which are in widespread use around the world. They are fired from regular rocket launchers with standard laser-designation techniques, such as those used for the Hellfire missile. Thus, the Talon kit turns a standard rocket into a high-precision weapon, without the need for any aircraft or launcher modifications.
While EAI will concentrate on export opportunities, Raytheon is focusing on domestic issues. The Talon uses the common digital, semi-active laser seeker that was matured out of work undertaken for the U.S. Army’s advanced precision kill weapon system that subsequently became a Navy/ Marine Corps program with BAE Systems. However, the U.S. Army requirement for a low-cost, laser-guided rocket remains, and a request for information was issued in August. In the middle of next year the service will hold a “rodeo,” in which the competitors will demonstrate their proposals.
In the meantime, Raytheon is to demonstrate the Talon to the Army in the first week of December, firing the weapon from a seven-round launcher on an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter.