Leonardo DRS on Thursday said it has agreed with SpearUAV Ltd.
to develop a version of the Tel Aviv-based company’s VIPER nano-scale hovering loitering munition for U.S. military customers.
VIPER is a vertical launch, quadcopter that looks like a small drone and gives dismounted warfighters on the frontlines an easy-to-use aerial munition against various targets, including those in protected positions. The nano-munition launches from a man-portable canister.
Spear says VIPER can be used to attack static and mobile targets beyond-line-of-sight, including in complex urban environments due to its ability to hover and observe enemy activity. The company also says that VIPER uses artificial intelligence to minimize collateral damage.
Leonardo DRS said that VIPER was developed rapidly to meet lessons learned from recent major conflicts and that the two companies will adapt the munition to meet emerging requirements of U.S. military.
In Ukraine’s war against Russian invaders, loitering munitions are being used by both sides in the conflict. The U.S. has also delivered loitering munitions to Ukraine that are supplied by Virginia-based AeroVironment [AVAV].
Leonardo DRS said it will bring its expertise in platform integration and payload development to bear on the technological capabilities of SpearUAV.
“We continue to prioritize investments to meet critical unit capability gaps and user-identified requirements,” Aaron Hankins, senior vice president and general manager of DRS Land Systems, said in a statement. “We then design, build and test integrated solutions that are mature, affordable, and rapidly available to meet accelerated customer demands. We recognized Spear as a leading-edge AI and unmanned technology company, and we are very excited about this new partnership.”
Spear makes several small and nano-unmanned aircraft systems, including one launched from a submarine.