Jackal VTOL Drone | Completes first firing of Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile
Defence Redefined
Published on 27/04/2023 at 16:15

A new versatile drone system capable of executing combat missions over land, sea, and air has completed a highly successful first trial firing of a Thales North Ireland Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM). 

As a Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) platform, the drone features an advantage over conventional fighter jets, which require “vulnerable” runways to deploy, while at the same time, it can operate from urban and non-urban areas. 

The system is designed for a range of missions, including Close Air Support, engaging helicopters, and neutralizing battle tanks as well as denying the use of runways and roads. 

The trial, sponsored by the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) of the Royal Air Force, involved teams from Flyby and Thales. Within a demanding six-week window, they were able to build two operational Jackal aircraft and successfully fire two LMMs.

Jackal and the future family of Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) it represents is a modular, plug-and-play RPA system, meaning that new equipment and technologies can be incorporated into Jackal between missions as well as during deployment. 

Also read: “Grypas” | Contract for the design of new UCAV has been signed by Defence & Finance Ministries

Jackal technical characteristics:

  • Payload: 15 kg
  • Wingspan: 5 m
  • Fuselage: 2,3 m
  • Maximum range: 130 km
  • Maximum speed: 108 km/h
  • Maximum altitude: 4,000 m
  • Engine: 4 rotors on the upper part for vertical takeoff and 4 small turbines for horizontal movement

The Flyby team contacted Thales in Belfast, where the LMM is designed and manufactured, to explore the possibility of firing it from Jackal in a trial. The Thales team accepted the opportunity to work with Flyby and be the first to fire their LMM from a drone in flight. On these grounds, the teams are now developing plans for putting this capability in production, whilst the aircraft is undergoing other enhancements and tactical development. 

Also read: ArmHighTech 2022 | Armenian-made UCAV “Aralez” creates impressions

During the missile firing test, the Jackal was equipped with two tube launchers mounted on the front upper part of the drone fuselage. Thales LMM (Lightweight Multirole Missile), also known as MARTLET in its British version, is a lightweight, precision-guided, air-to-surface missile designed for use on helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against various targets, including armored vehicles, small boats, and personnel. 

LMM technical characteristics:

  • Maximum range: up to 8 km 
  • Guidance system: semi-active laser guidance
  • Warhead: high-explosive shaped charge coupled with the pre-fragmented blast warhead along with the proximity fuze
  • Weight: 13 kg
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.5
  • Operational range: > exceeding 6 km 
  • Immediate launch capability from a variety of launch platforms on Land, Sea, and Air against conventional and asymmetric threats

At this point, it should be mentioned that the original design development brought Flyby together with its Turkish partners FlyBVLOS Technology and Maxwell Innovations, thus allowing field tests in Turkey and UK airspace. 

As such, Flyby Technology will continue development in Turkey as well as the UK, but is now seeking UK manufacturing partners to build Jackal at scale. 

Also read: Iran | UCAV “Gaza”, “9 DEY” missiles and “Quds” radar system unveiled – Photos & VIDEO




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