Hydra, Awakened: Guided Air-Ground Rockets
Raytheon positioning TALON as a shipborne weapon.
Raytheon Missile Systems’ Laser Guided Rocket program manager Richard Janik touted TALON as a zero-development cost alternative in 2008, but the US Navy stepped in and adopted APKWS later that year. Worse, the consortium hasn’t even been able to secure the UAE as a TALON customer. After successful testing from 2009 – 2011, the UAE placed a Cirit laser-guided rocket order with Turkey’s Roketsan in February 2013. Even so, Raytheon hasn’t given up.
Jan 15/14: Naval testing. Raytheon hasn’t given up on TALON, and is touting it for naval use. They tout a successful land firing from a standard 7-rocket LAU-68 launcher mounted on L-3′s Advanced Remote Weapon Station. The full ARWS includes day/night cameras and a laser designator, and weighs about 500 pounds with the rockets equipped. That’s good, because as Raytheon puts it:
“It requires only a target queue to engage on-mount target tracking and can be integrated on ships ranging in size from riverine to major surface combatants.”
There’s definitely a niche for that kind of close-in precision attack weapon at sea, in a low-cost solution. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon, L-3 demonstrate new ship protection system”.
Sen. Leahy’s [D-VT] worked in the mid-2000s to keep the Hydra 70mm rocket family alive through special appropriations, just in time for the Hydras’ potential on the battlefield to rise again. The key was the addition of low-cost precision guidance, which would expand the number of precision weapons carried by helicopters, aircraft, and even UAVs.
Over the last few years, the US Army’s 2nd attempt at an APKWS 70mm guided rocket had a near-death experience, before righting the program with Navy funding. Meanwhile, private development efforts from Lockheed Martin, Thales TDA, and a raft of international partnerships involving major defense firms and partners in Korea, the UAE, Canada/Norway, and Israel are introducing new competitors into the precision-guided rocket space. This DID FOCUS article covers the most prominent competitors within the guided rocket trend. Their products will sit between full anti-armor missiles like Hellfire, TOW, and Brimstone, and an emerging class of ultra-small precision attack weapons like Northrop Grumman’s Viper Strike, Raytheon’s Griffin, etc.
APKWS II: “To be, or not to be…”
Lockheed Martin: Is this a DAGR I see before me…?
LOGIR: “…the heavenly-harnessed team/ Begins his golden progress in the east…”
Raytheon and the UAE’s TALON: “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie…”
Other Entries: “Come unto these yellow sands…”
Turkey: Roketsan’s CIRIT
GATR-L (Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket – Laser).
SYROCOT (Systeme de Roquette A Corrections de Trajectoire)
Bigger Boom: 127mm Zuni rocket options
Additional Readings & Sources
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