Laser Designators for RQ-7 Shadow UAVs
Local US military surveillance/strike capabilities have been growing with SecDef Robert Gates’ strong support for more attention to the needs of the counterinsurgency fight. Surveillance is part of that, but it needs to be backed by action. Pending and emerging approaches tie UAVs, manned propeller planes, artillery, and helicopters into a cohesive, fast, and flexible solution for finding, identifying, and capturing or killing opponents.
Another piece of that puzzle is about to fall into place…
The US Army’s RQ-7 Shadow UAVs are currently too small to carry weapons, but their surveillance turret’s laser rangefinder can designate GPS locations for JDAMs and related bombs, Excalibur 155mm artillery shells, and GMLRS 227mm rockets. That’s useful, but maximum unarmed effectiveness requires a lightweight laser designator that would add the ability to actively mark targets for weapons like Hellfire missiles, laser-guided 70mm rockets, or Paveway bombs. That way, the small and relatively cheap RQ-7s could mark targets for any component of Task Force ODIN.
The first challenge is making a full laser rangefinder and designator that’s powerful enough, but still small enough and light enough to fit on the Shadow UAVs. The second challenge involves making that solution part of Army systems that stretch beyond the Shadow UAVs carrying it. This article covers the first challenge.
Oct 4/10: AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD received a $70.7 million contract for 142 laser designator payloads and 61 bore sight tools in support of the RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aircraft system. Work is to be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid was solicited with one bid received by US Army AMCOM Contracting Center, CCAM-AR-A in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0023).
Feb 12/09: Textron subsidiary Army Armaments Incorporated (AAI) in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $9.3 million cost plus fixed fee contract modification, exercising options for additional engineering hours related to these Shadow UAV modifications. These services are related to low-rate initial production of Laser Designators, Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) interoperability, and integration with the Army’s Universal Ground Control Station and Universal Ground Data Terminal.
Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of April 30/09. One bid was solicited and one bid received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0033).
Jan 21/09: Textron subsidiary AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $12.2 million firm-fixed-price finalization of Letter Contract Modification P00012. It will purchase 25 Laser Designator Retrofit Kits for its RQ-7 Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
Work will be performed at Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Aug 31/09. One bid was solicited and one bid received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0023).