The US Army is seeking to integrate explosives into its small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) to provide extra lethality to infantry units.
A request for proposals has been issued to industry partners, noting that lethal drones will likely become a common tool in modern warfare.
The army wants to know if its existing sUAS can be fitted with the capability after witnessing the effectiveness of the weapons deployed by Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
According to the solicitation, the lethal payload should be drawn from government inventories to ensure compatibility and easy integration.
It should also be easily attachable in the field and have a kill effect beyond that of the M67 fragmentation grenade.
Additionally, the US Army specified that the bombs should be deployable by drone controllers.
What Drones Can Be Used?
In the US Army, only the special forces operate a wide variety of sUAS, including the well-known Switchblade kamikaze drone.
Other branches only possess the Skydio X2D unarmed for surveillance and reconnaissance.
According to the service, the drones, equipped with lethal bombs, should currently be in the US inventory.
More specifically, it wants the unmanned platforms to come from the US defense department’s Blue UAS list, which includes winged drones and quadcopters similar to the DJI Mavic 3 used in Ukraine.
However, the army explained that the WingtraOne fixed-wing mapping drone is excluded from the options for unspecified reasons.
Once the proposals are submitted, the US Army will conduct an evaluation and select vendors whose offers meet the service’s technical, policy, and program goals.
Selected proposals will then advance to the second phase, which covers preliminary design refinement, prototyping, and initial demonstration.
“Additionally, the performer will deliver monthly progress reports describing all technical challenges, technical risk, and progress against the schedule, and a final technical report,” the solicitation read.
The final phase of the project is for the transition to the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command laboratory for further study and evaluation.
The prototype could also be directly forwarded to the Program Executive Office for live-fire demonstration and potential acquisition.