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Northrop Grumman reveals development of Jackal ‘sprint' loitering system

A not-to-scale model of the Jackal concept (foreground) was unveiled at the 2022 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida, 16–19 May. In the background is the Switchblade 600L tactical weapon system, which is being used as a testbed bus for initial Jackal developments. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman has disclosed details on its embryonic development of a new ‘sprint' loitering weapon system, designated Jackal.

An internal research and development (IRAD) initiative in association with AeroVironment, Jackal is intended to address a capability gap between current propeller-driven loitering weapon systems and requirements for tactical kinetic, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and electronic warfare (EW) missions at extended range.

The Jackal concept provides for a turbojet-powered loitering weapon system – tube-launched from either air or ground platforms – designed to sprint to target areas to engage directly or loiter until a target is identified. The weapon's turbojet propulsion solution will develop a transit velocity of ‘at least' 483 km/h (300 mph), the company said.

“The current design is intended to fly out to 100 km and then have an on-station time of at least 15 minutes,” a Northrop Grumman spokesperson told Janes . “Obviously, if the Jackal flew a shorter initial distance – what we call the sprint – then it would have [a] longer loitering time. However, the concept is also scalable to longer ranges [>185 km/100 n miles] and loitering times,” he said.

Leveraging low-level flight parameters, with an ability to fly waypoints, Jackal is designed to operate day or night and in adverse weather conditions, and to strike stationary or moving targets. The weapon system will be furnished with an advanced two-way datalink, and in the first instance incorporate a dual electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) integrated

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