One of the nastier weapons in the Russian arsenal is getting an unmanned spotter. According to C4ISR Journal, the Smerch multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) can now be stuffed with a drone that spots a target 90 kilometers away in just four minutes.The 92-pound unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, is fired in one of the Smerch's 300 mm rockets. Once it gets to its target, it can loiter for about a half-hour at an altitude of 600 to 1800 feet.
The UAV carries a TV camera and sensors that transmit imagery and coordinates with the MLRS, which in turn identifies a more precise target location.Trials of the UAV have shown that it reduces by 25 percent the number of times rockets need to be fired to hit a target. It is a precedent, said Sergei Malevsky, with Smerch-maker Splav State Research and Production Association. You can also have three in one: reconnaissance, strike and control...Malevsky lamented that due to financial constraints, it will be hard to market the product to the Russian armed forces.The most likely clients would be the countries that already operate Smerch, said Marat Kenzhetayev, an expert with the Center for Arms Control here.In service since 1987, Smerch was delivered to Algeria in 1999 and Kuwait in the mid-1990s.