Last Updated: 10/09/2012*

Pyros aims to bring new accuracy to unmanned mini-aircraft

Buzzing high above the Arizona desert, the unmanned Cobra aircraft peered at its target: a gray sheet of plywood supported by two-by-fours on a patch of parched dirt far below.

With a click, the tiny aircraft released a Pyros™, a 22-inch-long guided bomb no bigger than a rolled-up movie poster. The bomb’s fins flexed as it streaked earthward. Then, just feet above the target, it erupted in a cloud of flame, shredding a white rectangle painted in the center of the plywood.

The July 18 test at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona marked the first live-fire test of the Pyros, a tiny, laser- and satellite-guided bomb that developers are hoping will allow new, smaller unmanned aircraft to carry out precision strikes while sparing civilians. The Pyros is formally known as the Small Tactical Munition.

The test simulated insurgents planting a roadside bomb, and it used the Pyros’ sophisticated height-of-burst sensor to explode just before hitting the target.  

"All systems functioned perfectly, " said Tom Bussing, Raytheon's vice president of advanced missile systems. “The warfighter needs a lightweight, powerful, precision weapon that is designed specifically for the (unmanned aerial system) platform. Pyros is the ideal solution.”

The July 18 test used a Cobra unmanned aerial system, a 9.3-foot-long aircraft with a wingspan of only 10 feet.

The “end-to-end test” validated the weapon’s guidance modes – both semi-active laser and the satellite-based global positioning system –  as well as the height-of-burst sensor, electronic safe-and-arm device and multi-effects warhead.

Raytheon will next install the system on other types of unmanned aircraft and prepare for production, Bussing said.

At 13.5 pounds the Pyros is the smallest air-launched weapon in Raytheon’s portfolio. It is small enough that two of them can fit in the U.S. military’s common launch tube.

Learn more about Pyros small tactical munition.

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