The US Army’s latest extended range / multipurpose (ER/MP) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has successfully completed a series of tests with Hellfire II UAS missiles at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California.

Hellfire II UAS missiles are specifically designed to fire from a UAV with a 360° targeting ability, according to service officials.

US Army UAS deputy project manager Tim Owings said the tests, involving nine perfect or near-perfect missile firings demonstrated the missile’s ability to engage a wider target envelope than a typical Hellfire missile.

“The Hellfire UAS missile can take advantage of a 360° look around angle. The ball on the UAV can swivel 360 degrees so that you can engage targets that are below you, behind you and well off-axis from what a typical Hellfire can do,” he said.

“There were nine successful shots in which the laser designation system, the weapons system and the UAV all performed as designed and expected.”

During the missile firing, the air vehicle operator pressed the weapons fire button sending the missile from the inboard rail of the left wing to the target with a successful impact at precise waypoints during the flight.

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Starting in 22 November 2009, the Hellfire II UAS missile tests were conducted in a variety of conditions including firing at varying altitudes, against both stationary and moving targets, using different auto-track modes as well as at varying offset angles.

The missile can be fired in any direction and can correct course to find and strike its target, allowing for greater flexibility of use in combat situations.

The new test firing enables the UAS Project Office to enter into low-rate initial production following the ERMP’s successful completion of a milestone C review.