Lightweight Air-Dropped Guided Weapon Optimized for Tactical-UAVs


General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS) has successfully demonstrated a lightweight, precision guided weapon that could potentially be launched from tactical-class unmanned aerial vehicles (TUAV), such as the RQ-7 Shadow. Transformed into a precision guided bomb, a standard 81mm mortar bomb is applied with a smart guidance kit, replacing its standard fuze. The guidance section employs GD’s patented Roll-Controlled Fixed-Canard (RCFC) system, guiding the bomb to impact precisely on a pre-designated target.

This nose-mounted guidance kit was designed as a common, multi-platform Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC); according to the manufacturer, it has been successfully demonstrated on multiple mortar calibers, in both air-drop and tube-launch applications. The recent test was carried out at Ft. Sill, where an 81mm Air-Dropped Guided Mortar (ADM) bomb was deployed from an aircraft. The interface with the launching platform was provided by the ‘Smart Rack’ carriage and release system, also developed by General Dynamics, enabling the weaponization of any tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) platform. (see photo)

This application has been designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Special Forces, for a rapid target-response capability. It was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. The weapon was first tested in December 2008. The ADM will use existing mortar inventory to provide a low-cost, lightweight weapon system, with proven energetics. The company’s patented GPS enhanced, Roll Controlled Fixed Canard (RCFC) guidance kit is employed in this 81mm air-drop configuration, while enhancing the precision of tube-launched 120mm mortar bombs.

The tube-launched application is a low-cost guidance approach already successfully demonstrated at Yuma Proving Grounds, in a tactical 120mm guided mortar configuration, known as the Roll Controlled Guided Mortar (RCGM). The tube-launched 120mm RCGM uses the existing warhead and the M934A1 fuze.