Lockheed Martin Develops a Lightweight Precision Weapon for Tactical UAVs

    On its first launch test over Dugway, CA., the Shadow Hawk munition was released from the Shadow UAV at an altitude of 5,100 feet and impacted the target at a speed of 460 feet per second. Photo: Lockheed Martin
    Shadow Hawk carried on the test launcher, under the Shadow Hawk wing. Photo: Lockheed Martin

    With the missions of Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (TUAS) evolving from pure reconnaissance into armed recce, targeting and selectively engaging targets at very short response cycles, the US Marine Corps and Army are looking for low cost, high precision and compact aerial weapons that could be delivered from TUAS in the most effective way without compromising mission performance. This requirement demanded the introduction of a new class of lightweight guided weapons. Several companies have already demonstrated such weapons. The most recent was Lockheed Martin that reported today on the successful first launch of the ‘Shadow Hawk’ precision-guided weapon from a Shadow 200 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), achieving a direct hit on the target.

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    The new guided munition is a five kilogram (11-pound) class, seven centimeter diameter (2.75-inch), 68 cm long (27-inch) drop-glide guided weapon that uses semi-active laser (SAL) seeker for terminal guidance. Shadow Hawk provides better than one meter precision and has effective off-axis capability, enabling engagement of designated targets off the aircraft’s wing. The weapon is equipped with an anti-personnel warhead optimized for the mission at hand and the TUAV platform class. Its low weight enables the Shadow UAS to maintain longer time-on-station for performing critical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition operations.

    The test was conducted at the UAS Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center, Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The Shadow Hawk munition was released from the Shadow at an altitude of 5,100 feet and impacted the target at a speed of 460 feet per second. Shadow Hawk’s sensor package, guidance electronics and control section successfully navigated the weapon to the target, hitting it just eight inches off the laser spot center. For this initial demonstration, the target was designated with a ground location laser designator.