The RQ-7 Shadow 200 reconnaissance UAV has launched a weapon for the very first time: Lockheed Martin's Shadow Hawk munition.
The RQ-7 Shadow is manufactured by US firm AAI Corporation. First flown in 1991, it's a well-established UAV design in service with the US Army, US Navy and the US Marines, along with several foreign militaries. It cruises at 81 miles per hour and has a top speed of 130 miles an hour, while it can fly at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and has a maximum range of 68 miles.
On the payload side, the Shadow 200 is equipped with the IAI POP300 Plug-in Optical Payload, made up of a laser pointer, a TV camera and an infrared camera but never before has it been armed.
Shadow UAV Weapon Launch
According to Lockheed Martin, the Shadow UAV weapon launch trial went extremely well, with the Shadow Hawk munition scoring a direct hit. In fact, so accurate was the strike that it occurred a mere eight inches away from the centre of the target.
The Shadow Hawk is a 27-inch long gliding weapon that weighs 11 pounds and is equipped with a semi-active laser seeker. During the test launch - which occurred over Utah's UAS Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center - it left the Shadow 200 UAV at an altitude of 5,100 feet and, at the point it struck the ground target, was travelling at a rate of 460 feet a second.
Shadow Hawk Weapon
"As the mission of the Shadow UAS continues to evolve, it will need capability that can immediately neutralize threats detected and designated by the Shadow's sensor package, with minimum impact to the aircraft's endurance", Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control's advanced programmes director, Glenn Kuller, explained in a press release on the Shadow Hawk weapon launch.
He continued: "With precision strike accuracy, the Shadow Hawk is an ideal solution in urban environments where low collateral damage is essential.
"Equipped with Shadow Hawk and the UAS's electro-optical and infrared cameras, a Shadow UAS can now offer battlefield commanders timely detection of threat activities, including fleeting and time-sensitive threats, along with a quick-strike capability. All of Shadow Hawk's seeker and guidance components are flight-proven and production-ready, having been developed and tested on other Lockheed Martin weapon systems."
Image copyright US Marines