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13 September 2022

Hero Family of Loitering Munition Systems

The Hero loitering system provides precise strike capabilities with a low collateral damage.
The Hero family of loitering munition systems was developed by UVision. Credit: MilleniumAC/Wikimedia Commons.
The Hero-30 loitering system can be operated as man-packed or vehicle-mounted system. Credit: Reise Reise/Wikimedia Commons.
The US Marine Corps selected the Hero-120 platform for its organic precision fire mounted (OPF-M) requirement. Credit: Mistral Inc.

The Hero family of loitering munition systems is manufactured by UVision Air (UVision) in partnership with Rheinmetall‘s Italian subsidiary RWM Italia.

The Hero series comprises weapon systems designed to offer precision-strike capabilities in the modern battlefield. The ammunition systems can be used for both tactical and strategic missions.

The Hero systems are offered in different configurations, depending on the customer requirements, to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and conduct precision attacks on targets.

Rheinmetall unveiled the Mission Master XT Fire Support module at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris in June 2022. The new module is equipped with the Hero-120 loitering munition system.

Milrem Robotics’ Type-X robotic combat vehicle (RCV) with a multi-canister launcher can also be equipped with the Hero-120 and the Hero-400EC systems.

Development and testing

The Hero loitering systems were developed by UVision. The company signed a partnership agreement with Rheinmetall to provide end-to-end loitering munitions solutions to the European market in October 2021.

Rheinmetall assumed the role of the industrial, technological and commercial lead for the weapon system, while UVision agreed to provide the Hero loitering munitions.

The agreement also covers the integration of the Hero weapon systems into Rheinmetall’s manned and unmanned vehicle platforms, battle management systems, launchers, and armoured vehicles.

Mistral and UVision, under the purview of the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD), completed the testing of the Hero-120SF miniature loitering aerial munition (MLAM) in November 2021. The testing marks the completion of trials and paves the way for the operational implementation and potential use of the system by the US Special Operations Forces. Mistral is UVision’s business development partner.

Design and features

The Hero family of weapon systems combine ISR and strike capabilities to enable operating forces to locate, track and engage time-sensitive low signature enemy targets. The cruciform configuration enables increased manoeuvrability and pinpoint strike capability against moving or stationary targets. The design features four fixed-planar wings and four tail fins.

The system can be launched from land vehicles, naval or aerial platforms. It can launch attacks against infantry targets, moving light-duty vehicles, tanks, air defence systems, fortified enemy positions, and high-value assets.

The munition loiters above the operational area to locate and track the enemy. It can be deployed to search potential targets to help determine the high value ones and launch a high precision strike with the right timing, direction, and angle of attack.

The Hero series provides an operational range of between 5km short-range tactical strikes and 250km long-range strategic operations.

It allows transfer of control between military echelons and can be operated by the individual soldier and the central command.

The Hero sensor-to-shooter system can operate day and night and in global positioning system (GPS)-denied environments.

Payloads

The Hero loitering system can be equipped with a stabilised electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) seeker payload comprising day and night (thermal) cameras with a three-axis gimbal.

The EO sensors enable the location, tracking and verification of targets to launch precise attacks.

Navigation

The man-in the-loop mode provided by the line-of-sight two-way data link enables high-precision strike capabilities as the operator can make course corrections. It also provides a safety layer to prevent collateral damage, as the decision to abort the strike rests with the operator.

The Hero system provides real-time intelligence and transmission of target image and surrounding area through a data link terminal.

Launch and recovery

The loitering munition can be launched from single or multi-canister launchers or rails. The multi-tube canister launcher enables the launch of multiple munitions in quick succession.

Hero’s pneumatic launch system with low thermal and acoustic signature enables silent operations.

The mission abort capability allows the system to abort an attack in mid-air. The system automatically re-enters the loitering mode to engage another target or returns to the recovery area using a parachute.

Variants of the Hero family

The Hero-30 system weighs 3kg and can be operated as man-packed or vehicle-mounted system. It is easy to operate and enables frontline troops to start operations and launch attack against targets.

Ideal for anti-personnel missions, it can carry a warhead of 0.5kg and provides an endurance of 30 minutes.

The Hero-120 system is designed as a mid-range smart loitering munition system that can launch strikes against anti-armour and anti-personnel targets including tanks, vehicles, concrete fortifications, and soft targets in dense urban environments.

The loitering system weighs 12kg and carries a warhead of 4.5kg. It has an endurance of 60 minutes and offers a range of 40km.

The Hero-400EC is a 40kg long-range loitering munition system, which provides high-precision strikes with a low acoustic visual and thermal signature. It features a new electric motor that enables high-speed transit and low-speed loitering.

The system provides a range of 60km and endures an extended flight time of two hours. The 10kg multi-purpose warhead provides concrete piercing and anti-tank capabilities.

The Hero-900 munition system has a weight of 90kg and can be fitted with a 25kg warhead. It has a range of 150km and an endurance of six hours.

Hero-1250 weighs 125kg and provides long-range flight capabilities of 200km with an endurance of ten hours. It is armed with a 50kg warhead.

Hero-30, Hero-120 and Hero-400EC are powered by an electric motor, while the Hero-900 and Hero-1250 versions are powered by a gasoline-fuelled propulsion system.

The Hero family also includes the Hero-90 and Hero-120SF variants.

The warhead carried by the Hero series is activated by a tri-mode fuse with proximity, point detonation and delay modes.

Hero loitering munitions orders and deliveries

Rheinmetall and UVision received the first order to supply the Hero loitering munitions to an undisclosed European NATO military force in July 2022. The order involves delivery of the Hero-30 combat and training munitions, simulator, and training, by 2023. The customer will also receive associated logistics equipment and support.

UVision received a contract to supply its Hero-120 loitering weapon system for the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) organic precision fires-mounted (OPF-M) system requirement in June 2021. The contract was awarded through Mistral.

The Hero-120 systems will be integrated into the USMC’s light armoured vehicle-mortar (LAV-M), long-range unmanned surface vessel (LRUSV), and joint light tactical vehicle (JLTV).

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