Saturday, November 7, 2020

U.S. Army seeks industry input on soldier-launched ‘suicide drones’

The U.S Army is calling for industry input about low-cost soldier-launched loitering precision weapon systems to fulfill urgent operational requirements, according to a recent request for information posted on the government’s main contracting website.

The goal of the request for information is for Army Contracting Command to find low-cost material solutions to fulfill urgent Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) operational requirements.

The LMAMS is the small, man-portable loitering munition that will provide the small tactical unit with a capability to engage threat targets beyond the engagement of current line-of-sight weapons or indirect fire due to Rules of Engagement or complex environments with immediate precision fire while minimizing collateral damage. The current force must possess the capability to acquire, target, and eliminate or neutralize combatants and their capabilities in vantage or populated positions, while reducing fratricide and non-combatant casualties, according to Army’s officials.

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According to the RFI, notional LMAMS system components may consist of: an all-up-round missile (includes airframe, sensors, integrated guidance, warhead, data link, and launcher) and Fire Control Unit (providing functions such as data link, operator interface, and mission preparation and execution functions) that is notionally day/night readable,provides the user real-time video and control of the missile.

Also, the requirements include that the operator must be able to select predetermined targets using geolocation reference, visually select and identify targets of opportunity, loiter, abort, abort and redirect, arm/disarm, and manually command warhead detonation. The architecture for the LMAMS controller should be modular so it can be hosted by any future approved end user device or Department of Defense common controller.

All phases of the LMAMS operations must be accomplished by a single operator and configurable for dismounted or mounted patrolling operations. For mission preparation purposes, targeting information is provided to or by the operator and may consist of headings, geo location reference, or landmark information provided by direct observation from the operator, other observers, or by sensors and networks separate from LMAMS. Positive identification of the target shall be made prior to launch by these sources. The operator will use this information to perform mission preparation with the controller allowing man-in-the-loop flight to the area of interest.

For the flyout, LMAMS must be launched quickly and fly an assigned route or path to a target area by a single operator. In the terminal engagement phase, LMAMS will have the ability to automatically track a target designated by the operator or allow the operator to manually control the system as needed to focus on a specific area or point of interest.

The U.S. Army plans to receive a low-cost direct-fire missile system that would help U.S. service members reach threats that the standard weapon can’t reach with a very low collateral damage footprint.

Photo by Sgt. Gregory Summers

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