In the near future, the United States Marine Corps will begin fielding a so-called suicide drone, essentially a quickly deployable — and expendable — flying bomb. Based on the UVision Hero-120, the loitering munition is the largest of the company’s short-range systems.
What It Can Do
Don’t let “short-range” fool you, however. Powered by an electric motor and controlled by a “man-in-the-loop” the Hero-120 has a maximum range of 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles, and can stay aloft for an hour. The canister launched drone has 8 pop-out fins and is remarkably lightweight.
The entire drone weighs just 12.5 kilos and packs a 4.5-kilo explosive warhead, presumably in its nose. Packed into multiple canister launcher-type pods, it is not hard to imagine large numbers of the Hero-120 sent aloft at once — and in fact, that is exactly what the Marine Corps wants to do.
The Marine Corps contracted with Mistral, an American weapon system company, to integrate the Hero-120 onto the LAV and JLTV land vehicles, as well as onto the LRUSV, a long-range remotely operated drone boat. When mated to a vehicle, multiple Heros could be stacked together, not unlike a multiple rocket launcher system.
The Marine’s new suicide drone will differ slightly from the Hero-120 however, though it is not exactly clear what this difference will be exactly.