AeroVironment has successfully conducted a maritime demonstration of its Puma-Switchblade automated sensor-to-shooter (S2S) capability.
The S2S system uses the existing RQ-20B Puma Block 2 All-Environment small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) along with the new Mantis i45 sensor gimbal.
The sensor solution has been developed to automatically transmit coordinates to the Switchblade lethal loitering missile, enabling it to defeat threats both on land and at sea.
AeroVironment carried out the demonstration aboard a US Navy Coastal Riverine Craft in order to evaluate the S2S technology’s operational effectiveness in countering targets such as high-speed unmanned boats.
The exercise saw Puma successfully locate and identify a series of fast-moving attack craft as threats and pass the target locations to Switchblade before its launch.
Switchblade automatically flew to the target and engaged the threat with an inert payload following confirmation, which was launched by a Switchblade vehicle operator.
AeroVironment Tactical Missile Systems vice-president Rick Pedigo said: “This new combination of our Puma unmanned aircraft system with our Switchblade loitering missile system gives commanders unprecedented ability to identify threats at long ranges, limit collateral damage and wave off targets subsequently deemed neutral or friendly.”
A S2S mission combines Puma Block 2 sensor and Switchblade loitering munition shooter with additional equipment such as a ruggedised laptop featuring S2S software, a Pocket DDL data link module and a larger gain antenna.
This combination of technologies helps to electronically forward the Puma payload’s centre field of view (CFOV) to the Switchblade missile in order to accurately target coordinates more effectively.
The simultaneous Puma and Switchblade video is displayed on the laptop, which enhances situational awareness for the operator, while reducing the chances of mis-targeting.
Pedigo added: “Our sensor-to-shooter solution greatly enhances Switchblade’s capability to positively identify targets and reduce engagement timelines by performing target identification and location functions prior to launch.
“By continuously updating the target location throughout the engagement, S2S significantly reduces the Switchblade operator’s workload.”