U.S. Army Demonstrates UAV-Launched Precision Mortar

 - November 9, 2012, 1:50 PM
The U.S. Army used the TigerShark UAV to demonstrate the launch of a precision-guided mortar. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and the U.S. Army have demonstrated a precision-guided mortar for use on small UAVs. The test, conducted under the Army’s Air Drop Mortar program, was intended to show a rapid target response capability sought by the Army, Marine Corps and special forces.

General Dynamics announced that it has launched three mortars in separate engagements from a TigerShark UAV at altitudes of about 7,000 feet. The munition used was an 81-mm mortar equipped with General Dynamics’ roll controlled fixed canard (RCFC) system and a fuzing system developed by the Army Armament Research and Development Engineering Center (Ardec) at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. (On November 14, the Oklahoma Training Center for Unmanned Systems announced that it facilitated the demonstration, which was conducted at Fort Sill. —Ed)

The RCFC guidance kit includes a GPS-based guidance and navigation system that adds precision strike capability to existing mortars. The system is nose-mounted on a US M821 mortar bomb. The system has been demonstrated on multiple mortar calibers in both air-drop and tube-launch applications, according to General Dynamics.

The pusher-prop TigerShark, supplied by Navmar Applied Sciences, of Warminster, Pa., weighs 260 pounds, with a payload capacity of 50 pounds and endurance of about 10 hours. Introduced in 2005, the UAV was manufactured for a time by L-3 Unmanned Systems. The U.S. Navy is also developing the TigerShark for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“This effort demonstrated a low-cost, tactical version of a GPS strike weapon for UAV platforms,” said Mark Schneider, general manager of Ordance and Tactical Systems’ Seattle operations. “Together with Ardec, we have demonstrated a weapon in the 10-pound class for tactical UAVs that can be used to engage and defeat targets quickly.”