A weapon prototype developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) successfully hit two high-speed boat targets during recent testing in Point Mugu, Calif.
"It's a fire-and-forget weapon," said Ken Heeke, the ONR program officer for the Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS). "No longer do you have to continue to monitor the target after you've fired the weapon. You can move on to the next threat with the assurance that the rocket will hit the target."
ONR researchers produced LCITS, a suite of low-cost technologies that modify existing helicopter-borne rockets into precision-guided weapons. By adding an infrared imaging guidance section to 2.75-inch Hydra-70 rockets, the researchers are providing naval aviators with a new lethal capability.
Unlike laser-guided weapons that require operators to select and monitor a target from launch to detonation, LCITS gives unguided rockets the ability to compute and home in on targets automatically after launch.
In the Nov. 3 test, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division engineers used a shore-based launcher to fire two LCITS rockets, one inert and the other with an explosive warhead. Using inertial guidance, they flew to a point where the infrared terminal guidance system took over. Onboard imaging infrared seekers identified their intended targets among five maneuvering small boats. The rockets adjusted trajectories to intercept and eliminate two of the boats.
The test was part of the Medusa Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, an effort funded by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Secretary of Defense and Republic of Korea.
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