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US Army seeking tube-launched, anti-armour UAVs

A plethora of tube-launched UAVs, such as AeroVironment Switchblade (pictured above), have entered the market in recent years. These and other ‘suicide' UAVs are commonly used in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (DVIDS)

On 7 July the US Army announced the May initiation of the Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance (LASSO) programme, intended to deliver a soldier-portable, tube-launched anti-tank unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to infantry brigades.

“The army is preparing to engage near-peer threats in a conventional conflict, [and] it was becoming evident that our Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) are in need of an additional organic anti-tank capability,” Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Pearsall, the army's product manager for soldier precision targeting devices, told Janes in a 21 July interview.

Although delivered to the IBCTs, Lt Col Pearsall said the army is “focused at giving that battalion commander the organic [LASSO] capability”, pushing the UAV's use down to smaller units.

The army intends to field the UAVs in mid-to-late 2024, Lt Col Pearsall said. The first LASSOs are to be existing, off-the-shelf products. The army is assessing available options and will make further decisions following an as-yet-unscheduled industry day.

“We're going after current capabilities, [UAVs] that are mature right now that give us that anti-tank capability,” Lt Col Pearsall said.

The service plans to hold a competition for follow-ons.

The system is to consist of the vehicle, its launch tube, and a control system. The UAV is intended to be equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor, which soldiers can use to guide the vehicle to beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) or non line-of-sight (NLOS) targets.

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