The U.S. Army is upgrading its drone technology by buying Raytheon’s Coyote drone, which specializes in targeting and taking down other drones.
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The new drone is equipped with a radio frequency seeker at its nose and features a small-blast warhead. It will be able to engage targets at forward operating bases (FOBs) around the world, Ratheon officials said during a conference at the Farnborough Airshow this week.
“We modified these vehicles to have small warheads to take down a quadcopter, for example, or other types of Class I or Class II [unmanned aerial vehicles]. It’s very modular in nature so you can change what’s on the front of the device,” Thomas Bussing, Raytheon’s advanced missile systems vice president, said during a media briefing.
Currently, the drones are going through testing and are expected to be delivered toward the end of the year. The Army plans to immediately use the drones once they’re delivered.
Specific details surrounding the drone purchases – including the number of units that will be procured and the cost – are currently unknown. Company officials were unable to comment on the drone’s range due to security concerns. Raytheon’s KRFS radar will also be included in the contract, in addition to the drones.
Analysts say that enemy drones are an increasing threat to U.S. troops, and the Coyote will provide a solution to providing additional protection. The new drone has also proven to be reliable, as it hit its target in 11 out of 12 tests that were conducted with the Army.
“We are currently under funding by the U.S. Army to develop and deploy these devices by the end of this year. We had a demonstration with the Army where we flew 12. Eleven were successful. One had a launch misfire, but the other 11 all hit their targets,” Bussing said.
Raytheon has also been discussing the possibility of providing the drones for the Navy and Marine Corps. It’s expected that those branches would use the drone for its loiter and swarming capabilities.
One of the the Coyote’s major benefits is that it is tube-launched and expendable, so it can be launched from a variety of locations including from land, ships and aircraft.
The Coyote uses a new resin structure that reinforces its body.
“These quadcopters are actually fairly challenging. They have a resin structure, which is actually very difficult to penetrate. They are very resilient to small arms fire and so forth. But the warheads are very capable of destroying them,” Bussing added.