Raytheon [RTN] has scaled down the basic technology of a guided missile into a projectile that can be fired from a standard 40mm grenade launcher.
The new 17-inch Pike munition was successfully fired twice recently during flight tests at Mile High Resources, Texas. Both rounds landed within kill range of their targets after flying 2,300 yards, according to the company.
The munition is accurate enough to be used against both fixed and slow-moving targets, J.R. Smith, Raytheon’s director of advanced land warfare systems, told Defense Daily.
“To understand a lot of how we were able to do this, you have to look no farther than your smartphone,” Smith said. “The capacity to do computing with very small circuit cards allowed us to basically fit the technology of a seeking missile into this little grenade-sized rocket.”
The munition weighs about 1.7 pounds, which is considerably more than a conventional grenade, but packs three-times the punch, Smith said. The round can be loaded into a standard tube-style 40mm grenade launcher such as the M320 or enhanced grenade launching module (EGLM). The electronic system is only about the size of a roll of quarters, Smith said.
Pike uses a small powder charge to launch into the air, then ignites a rocket engine once it is at a safe distance from the launcher, about 10 feet in the air. The launcher or another soldier then uses a targeting laser to guide the munition–-equipped with a digital, semi-active seeker in the nose--in flight to the target.
The Army has no specific requirement for a smart grenade, but is generally in the market for precision munitions along the line of its Excaliber smart artillery shells, which deploy fins in flight and correct their path on the way to a predetermined target. Representatives of the Army witnessed the recent Pike flight tests and expressed interest in further testing the weapon, Smith said. The company is in the process of getting the munition qualified for operational testing next year and is in discussion with officials from the Army’s Huntsville [Ala.] and Picatinny [N.J.] arsenals to “determine the way ahead,” he said.
“Thusfar it has been strictly internal investment anticipating the Army’s need for this capability,” Smith said. “We’ve got some adversaries that have same pretty effective, in not particularly sophisticated weapons. We are trying to provide a capability that outranges and is more accurate that rocket propelled grenades, for instance.”