AeroVironment has successful conducted the demonstration of a Puma-Switchblade automated sensor-to-shooter (S2S) capability from a US Navy Coastal Riverine Craft, the company announced on 9 April.
The system uses the RQ-20B Puma Block 2 AE UAS equipped with the Mantis i45 sensor gimbal, with automatic coordinate transmission to the Switchblade lethal loitering missile to quickly and accurately observe and respond to threats on land or at sea.
During the demonstration, the UAS identified a series of fast-attack craft moving toward a host platform and transmitted their target coordinates to Switchblade. Once launched, Switchblade automatically flew to the fast-moving target and the operator defeated the threat by engaging it with an inert payload.
S2S combines Puma Block 2 and Switchblade with additional equipment – a ruggedised laptop with S2S software, a pocket DDL data link module and a larger gain antenna – to forward the Puma payload’s centre field of view electronically to Switchblade as its target coordinate. On the laptop, the simultaneous Puma and Switchblade video improves operator situational awareness and reduces the chances of mis-targeting.
Currently, S2S is a prototype with plans for product release in the fall of 2018. Currently fielded Switchblade systems can be upgraded with the S2S capability.