15 Juli 2014
Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (photo : Thales)
Thales has introduced a freefall variant of its precision-guided Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) suited for integration on a wide range of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).
The company partnered with Textron Systems around 18 months ago to perform integration of the 6kg munition on-board an undisclosed UAV, which the partnership is now ready to bring to market.
A 70cm- (27.5in) long, 7.6cm-wide munition with a 2kg (4.4lb) warhead that provides a precision strike – including against armoured vehicles – it utilises an inertial navigation system with optional GPS as well as semi-active laser guidance.
In June it was announced that Thales would provide the standard configuration of LMM for the UK Royal Navy’s AgustaWestland Wildcat attack helicopters under the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapons Light (FASGW-L) programme. The LMM will provide a light missile for the navy to use against small boats, fast attack craft and other small targets
“We’re launching this off the back of that good news,” Ricky Adair, sales and marketing director at Thales UK, tells Flight Daily News. “There is a gap in the market…and there is a requirement to prosecute and engage when required.”
Adair says that UAVs have proven their worth as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, but operators are looking at increasing the capability of those aircraft – especially considering the cost of close air support using manned aircraft.
“We have been working tirelessly to prove this capability,” Adair says.
The company says it is platform neutral, with the UAV's payload the only factor. “We’re looking at creative ways to integrate innovatively to put more of these on-board [UAVs],” he says.
Thales will be able to deliver the freefall LMM in 12 months of receiving an order, and testing for potential customers is due to take place soon.
Textron manufactures UAVs including the RQ-7 Shadow in operation with the US Army and US Marine Corps, and the Aerosonde - designated XMQ-19A in US service.