Textron Systems (Outdoor Exhibit L2-L5) is introducing a new smart weapon for UAVs that could attain operational capability by year-end. Working in partnership with Thales UK, the company recently completed initial trials of the 13-pound Fury lightweight precision-guided glide weapon and now is preparing for further tests for the U.S. Special Operations Command.
According to Brian Sinkiewicz, Textron’s senior v-p and general manager for precision weapons systems, prospective users of the new weapon are looking for something specifically developed for delivery from a UAV. “They want flexibility, low cost and for it to be tailored for specific capabilities and target sets,” he told AIN. “Fury is very precise with low [rates of] collateral damage.”
Fury has been developed for a UAV like the Shadow, which is made by Textron’s unmanned systems division. In the early tests, an inert version of the weapon was delivered at 8,000 feet with an operational speed of around 70 knots at the U.S. Army’s proving ground in Yuma, Arizona, to demonstrate its guidance capability.
The weapon uses an inertially guided system with GPS to allow for drift, as well as a semi-active laser that allows for more accuracy against moving targets. It achieved a direct hit on static vehicle target.
According to Sinkiewicz, the size, weight and capability of the Fury will increase the endurance of UAVs and allow them to carry more weapons. For the currently unweaponized Shadow, it will bring completely new capability, with capacity for a pair of Furys. It could also increase the firepower of the Predator and Reaper UAVs, with the ability to carry up to 24 of the new weapons in addition to its standard Hellfire missiles.
Textron’s plan calls for it to deliver the first Furys to U.S. Special Operations forces for trials as soon as the weapon’s terminal laser guidance capability is deemed ready for service. Thales UK intends to work with the British Ministry of Defence to set up a separate evaluation.
“We’re looking to get this out into the market ahead of our competitors, because there is currently nothing specifically tailored for UAVs like this,” said Sinkiewicz. It will likely compete with ATK’s Hatchet or Raytheon’s Griffin weapons.
“To date, the tests have demonstrated that the lightweight weapon features a mature and proven warhead and accurate guidance system paired with a fully integrated aircraft solution,” he concluded.