AeroVironment, Textron Advance Lethal Mini-UASs

By Graham Warwick
May 25 , 2012

Textron Defense Systems has demonstrated refinements to its BattleHawk squad-level loitering munition with flights of the lethal unmanned aircraft for the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force at Socorro, N.M.

BattleHawk is a tube-launched, warhead-equipped small expendable UAS unveiled by Textron last year as the Tactical Remote Aerial Munition—the company’s entry into the emerging loitering munition market.

The tests in New Mexico “offered an operationally realistic environment for several mission scenarios,” the company states, including target engagement and standoff attack beyond line of sight across a mountain peak.

The system as demonstrated incorporated several enhancements, including improved maneuverability in mountainous terrain; dual high-resolution digital cameras; and moving target tracking during terminal guidance maneuvers.

The loitering munition market kicked into high gear last year with the award in September of an initial $4.9 million Army order for AeroVironment Switchblade tube-launched lethal small UASs. That contract has now been increased to $10 million.

AeroVironment, meanwhile, has also received a $2.5 million U.S. Air Force launch order for improved digital Wasp All-Environment (AE) small UASs under the Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle program.

The 2.8-lb., hand-launched Wasp AE incorporates AeroVironment’s digital data link and is interoperable with the company’s digital Puma and Raven small UASs and common handheld ground-control station.

Wasp AE incorporates the smallest of AeroVironment’s new Mantis line of miniature gimbaled payloads, a 275-gram color and infrared video sensor, while the air vehicle has 20% greater flight duration than the earlier Wasp.

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