Summer is finally upon us and we're well into event season for the defence industry. This week's, Latest In Defence features technology unveiled around the time of the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris. Duke Airborne Systems unveils a pioneering remote weapons system for use on helicopters, Lockheed shows how a new armoured vehicle turret can launch missiles designed for use on aircraft, and Raytheon has completed flight testing on its Small Diameter Bomb.
Duke Helicopter remote weapon system
Utility helicopters deliver troops and supplies to otherwise inaccessible areas, but are minimally armed so usually need an armed escort. Israeli company Duke Airborne Systems presented its solution at this year's Eurosatory event; a fully robotic remote weapon station for helicopters.
Duke's remote weapon station (RWS) sits in the cargo space of the helicopter and is only deployed to the belly of the helicopter by robotic arms when needed; this reduces drag and keeps its armed status secret from the enemy.
The business end of the RWS is an electric 25mm machine gun that can deliver up to 2,000 rounds of munitions over 360° in daylight or at night. Finally, if the helicopter needs to make a quick getaway and has to drop any unnecessary weight, the pilot can activate cargo hooks to jettison the RWS.
Lockheed long-range surveillance attack vehicle
Also at Eurosatory, Lockheed Martin released details of its new vehicle-based turret system. The long-range surveillance and attack vehicle can launch Hellfire II missiles and DAGR missiles, weapons usually used on helicopters or winged aircraft. The system gives infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) additional range, firepower and effectiveness on the battlefield, meaning IFVs can engage and kill tanks, penetrating any level of armour.
Lockheed successfully fired Hellfire II and DAGR missiles from its LRSAV platform in May at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Though this demo uses an 8 x 8 wheeled armoured vehicle, Lockheed says it can be fitted to any platform.
Raytheon small diameter bomb
Raytheon recently finished a series of flight tests for the Small Diameter Bomb II for the US Air Force, with the final stages seeing direct hits on stationary land targets using upgraded hardware and electronics.
The small diameter bomb is designed for use against armoured targets up to 40nm, and compared with similar weapons, it has a small explosive footprint to minimise collateral damage.
It uses Raytheon's uncooled tri-mode seeker that operates in millimetre-wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared and semi-active laser modes. Operators can change targets post-launch via a datalink that passes in-flight updates to the weapon.
The small diameter bomb will now take part in a series of live-fire tests to demonstrate its end-to-end capability before its system verification review.
Coming soon - Farnborough Air Show
Military innovation happens all year round, but there's always a surge of announcements around events like Eurosatory. This year's show had a strong emphasis on land warfare, not entirely unrelated to the threat of instability spreading from the Ukraine.
The defence industry's announcements will now swing more towards aircraft when Farnborough soars into town. Latest In Defence will be there to see what's new in the sky when, technical difficulties notwithstanding, the F-35 takes centre stage.