The U.S. Army will use Raytheon’s [RTN] Coyote unmanned aircraft system and the KRFS radar, as a near-term counter-unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capability to protect deployed units from enemy drones.

Raytheon has delivered 40 KRFS, or Ku band radio frequency system, units to date, with as many as 32 deployed with Army units overseas. The company is finalizing development of advanced Coyote variants that will fly faster and farther. Because of an urgent operational need, the Army is expected to use Coyote as a counter-UAS solution before the end of the year, Raytheon said on Tuesday.

Raytheon's Coyote small unmanned aerial system (UAS). Photo: Defense Daily.
Raytheon’s Coyote small unmanned aerial system (UAS). Photo: Defense Daily.

Equipped with an advanced seeker and warhead, the Coyote-enabled system can successfully identify and eliminate enemy unmanned aerial vehicles when paired with an advanced electronically scanned array KRFS radar, which acquires and accurately tracks all sizes of UAS threats.

Coyote is a small, expendable, tube-launched UAS that can be deployed from the ground, air or a ship. Coyotes can be flown individually or netted together in swarms for use in a variety of missions including surveillance, electronic warfare and strike.

In an October 2016 demonstration in the Gulf of Mexico, 33 Coyote UAS were tube-launched in less than three minutes from the R/V Sea Fighter (FSF-1) ship. The unmanned aircraft showed they could form up, fly, break off, engage, come back, fly and then land on shore.

“Enemy unmanned aircraft are among the biggest threats facing our ground troops today,” said Thomas Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems. “Our small, expendable Coyote provides the Army with an affordable and highly effective solution for countering the growing UAS threat.”

Coyotes already are used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for hurricane tracking and modeling, a program that began with the deployment of a drone from a P-3 Orion aircraft into the eye of Hurricane Edouard in 2014. The agency has used the same methods to track hurricanes in the 2016 and 2017 hurricane seasons and has them ready to deploy this year.

The KRFS radar in use today is a multi-mission radar providing rocket, artillery and mortar, sense and warn, and counter-UAS mission capabilities. Its accuracy enables significant UAS mission performance including precision fire control and UAS swarm scenarios at tactically significant distances.

“The warfighter needs a complete mission solution to successfully counter UAS threats,” said Dave Gulla, Raytheon Mission Systems and Sensors vice president. “Our quickly transportable system that tracks low-swarming threats with KRFS and eliminates those threats with Coyote, is a game changer for the U.S. Army.”

Raytheon is also involved with a Leonardo DRS-led program to provide initial maneuver short-range air defense (IM SHORAD) to Army units, specifically in Europe.

Leonardo is tasked with providing mission equipment for an IM SHORAD system capable of defeating UAS, rotary-wing and fixed-wing threats with prototype deliveries expected in spring 2019.

Leonardo’s IM-SHORAD system incorporates the Moog [MOG.A] Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform, Raytheon Stinger missiles and Rada’s multi-mission Hemispheric Radar.