Laser-Guided Rockets Gain Popularity

By David Hambling London and Bill Sweetman Washington, David Hambling
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Meanwhile, U.S. Special Operations Command (Socom) has awarded a contract to ATK and Elbit for their rival Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket, or GATR. This contract calls for validation on various Socom platforms, including the MH-60L helicopter. The penetrating version of GATR is equipped with a steel-cased M282 warhead with a programmable fuze. It can be set from the cockpit to detonate on impact or after a set delay. In tests, the warhead successfully penetrated a triple-brick wall and light-vehicle armor before detonating.

In Europe, Thales subsidiary TDA is developing the RPM or Roquette a Precision Metrique (meter-precision rocket). After successful ground-to-ground firing tests, TDA has successfully fired the RPM from a Tiger HAP helicopter. Each RPM has its own laser code, so several can be fired simultaneously if designators are available, and the operator can select from up to five types of ammunition in one rocket pod. More firing tests of the RPM are scheduled for July, with possible deployment with the French army from 2018.

Turkey's Roketsan, meanwhile, is in production with its own 70-mm laser-guided rocket, the Cirit, which has been delivered to the Turkish armed forces for use on T-129 helicopters and also sold to the United Arab Emirates. Roketsan developed a low-smoke motor for the weapon that reportedly increases its range to 8 km from 6 km (5 mi. from 3.7 mi.). The company also developed a multipurpose warhead for the weapon.

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