Textron Test-Fires New Precision Glide Bombs

In this Sept. 8, 2005 file photo, Army Sgt Joshua Clark, left, and maintenance instructor Richard Peebles catch a Shadow 200, an unmanned aerial vehicle as it touches down after a test flight at Fort Huachuca. (A. E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star via AP)
In this Sept. 8, 2005 file photo, Army Sgt Joshua Clark, left, and maintenance instructor Richard Peebles catch a Shadow 200, an unmanned aerial vehicle as it touches down after a test flight at Fort Huachuca. (A. E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

Textron Systems recently test-fired a new lightweight, precision-guided glide bomb from a Shadow drone at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, in order to showcase the weapon’s technology to interested Army and Marine Corps officials.

In development by Textron Systems since March of last year, the Fury is a small 27-inch, 13-pound GPS and laser-guided bomb engineered to fly and fire from medium and large drones, said Christian Leimkuehler, vice president of Textron Precision Weapon Systems.

“It is designed to be effective against moving targets with GPS, INS (inertial navigation systems) and semi-active laser-based seeking capability. We built the weapon to be affordable for a light platform,” Leimkuehler added.

The weapon has been successfully fired against targets from a Shadow 200 and a Shadow M2 during testing over the last year. With the Fury, the intent was to design a weapon that would provide a strike technology while still enabling the Shadow UAS’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, mission, he added.

“We developed a system that had less than eight-percent impact to the endurance of the platform and it was very effective in allowing the operator to maintain the current conops (concept of operations) while maintaining the weapon. We wanted something that provides minimal impact,” Leimkuehler explained.

Unlike the 100-pound Hellfire missiles fired from medium and large-scale drones such as Predators and Reapers, the smaller Fury is engineered to provide smaller and medium-sized drones with a precision-guided light attack option.

The Fury is also configured with a tri-mode fuse which can be set to detonate on impact, after a delay or above a specified target through what’s called “height of burst” mode, he said.

There were two successful test-drops of the Fury against static targets from a Shadow 200 UAS at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., in August of this year.

At the same time, the weapons semi-active laser guidance is designed to give it the ability to destroy targets on-the-move. Semi-active laser technology works when the weapon can follow or hone in on a laser spot coming from a laser designator.

“We can employ this weapon against moving targets with a designation either from the platform or from a gun location. The weapon is capable of engaging moving targets. It has a fragmentation warhead as well as a warhead that is able to engage lightly armored vehicles,” he added.

Army and Marine Corps representatives were on hand at Yuma for the recent test fires. Both the Army and Corps use Shadow drones for reconnaissance. The Fury would give the platform an ability to fire weapons as well.

Other vendors, such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, have tested and developed various precision-guided munitions from Shadow UAS as well, so the Fury joins a field of potential method the Army and Corps could use for the drone.

Although the Fury has primarily been tested on a Shadow UAS, Textron Systems and potential customers are talking about a multiple-load arming possibility for larger UAS platforms.

“Three Fury on a Hellfire rail allows current Reaper and Predator operators to have Hellfire on their rail as well as Fury,” Leimkuehler added.

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