The Army will probably hear from Raytheon quite soon about adding an Unmanned Aerial System known as KillerBee to whatever replaces the Future Combat System.
KillerBee carries a modular payload, can fly for 15 hours, can be ground-launched and recovered with a net. In addition, Raytheon recently used the KillerBee to feed targeting information to an anti-tank weapon, making it possible for a crew to fire without exposing themselves to enemy fire. The company is offering the UAS to the Navy and Marines for the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System.
During a presentation at the Paris Air Show about the system today, I was struck by how appropriate its capabilities seemed to some of the Army's FCS missions so I asked the briefer, Mark Bigham, director of business development, if he thought the fit made sense.
"Great question!" he said (which is usually a sign the reporter has either missed the point or tossed a real softball). Then he surprised everyone in the room: "I think FCS would be a great user of this capability." Then he said the company would probably pursue it.
One of the most compelling elements of the system is the Common Control System that Raytheon has developed. Peterson said its use has reduced collisions by 50 percent. The system uses collision-avoidance algorithms and automatically steers a UAS away from an obstacle.
Raytheon clearly thinks the KillerBee is a hot product, with Peterson noting that the UAS market is projected to grow from $4.4 billion to $8.7 billion over the next 10 years. "That's a big market and a good place to be," he said.
KillerBee Specifications Payload Capacity: 5,800 in3 Payload Weight: 30+ lb Flight Range: 100+ mi Endurance: 15 hr Wing Span: 10 ft Flight Controller: STANAG 4586 compliant EO/IR Payload: Daytime video, nighttime IR