LMCD – Loitering Munition Capability
Demonstration – an MOD program calling for the early demonstration of
loitering weapons, providing persistent coverage, deterrence and kill
of enemy targets over a wide area and extended period of time. The
loitering weapon will be able to deliver fast effects over a wide
area, with pin-point accuracy.
Several systems were displayed at DSEi, presumably pitching for this
program. Among these were the new SMACM from Lockheed Martin. This
weapon can be used as an armed expendable UAV or a reconnaissance
vehicle. It is compatible with most combat aircraft and BRU-61A
launchers. TARES, advanced version of the German
Taifun. MBDA and
Ultra Electronics, the two companies selected to continue to the next
phase of the program presented operational and available platforms,
and both include Israeli partners.
Ultra has teamed with Rafael, EMIT and Raytheon, to offer the BLADE
(Battlefield Loitering Artillery Direct Effect), based on a modified
Sparrow M UAV designed and produced by EMIT. The vehicle has an
endurance of six-hours. It is configured with a nose mounted forward
looking EO payload and has a capacity to carry additional fuel or
other payloads, including explosives. In the Blade configuration, the
UAVs could be operated in "searcher" and "killer" roles. On board EO
sensors will be used to identify and classify targets, and check
battle damage. The killer UAVs will also be able to actively seek and
destroy high priority targets. It is assumed that the UAVs will be
able to coordinate their search patterns to take advantage of the
persistence and availability of sensors over a wide area.
MBDA is leading a consortium including IAI, QinetiQ, Insys and
Carnfield University. Its proposed weapon is the White Hawk, a
derivative of the Harpy radar killer drone, developed by IAI and
operational in several armies. IAI has also developed; under a joint
venture with Raytheon (now a member of the competing team) an extended
version of Harpy (also known as E-Harpy) called
Cutlass. This UAV was
reportedly offered to Turkey which already operates the Harpy. White
Hawk, believed to be based on this platform, integrates an EO sensor
and an explosive charge of a significant weight on a single platform.
According to MBDA, the basic endurance requirement is for several
hours but the program expects endurance growth in the future to the
range of 20 hours, matching the capabilities of UAVs.
Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (RDE)
displayed the new Tactical Advanced Recce Strike System (TARES), an
evolutionary step from its Taifun killer drone. RDE successfully
completed a series of test flights which tested the sensors, and
verify the vehicle/GCS long range communications capabilities via
datalinks and communications relays. During these tests TARES achieved
its required operational radius of 200km. The homing device uses a
thermal imaging sensor and a target imaging processor.