Air Weapons: UAVs Expand Their Armory


April 27, 2010:  The U.S. Air Force and CIA are using smaller missiles on their Predator and Reaper UAVs. This enables targets to be destroyed with less risk to nearby civilians. All these are alternatives to the Hellfire II, which weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds), carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. The new small missile that has been seen in action is apparently the Griffin, which is a 15.6 kg (34.5 pound) guided missile with a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by the larger Hellfire missile. To achieve this, Griffin has a shorter range (4 kilometers), which is adequate for a UAV, which is designed to go after nearby targets. There even smaller options, like the guided version of the 70mm air-to-ground rocket. These are 11.4 kg (25 pound) missiles, with a laser seeker, a 2.7 kg (six pound) warhead and a range of about six kilometers.

UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles. The 70mm missile is designed to be carried in a launch rack that replaces the one used by Hellfire, but carries four 70mm missiles for each Hellfire. There are similar arrangements for Griffin.



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