A swarm of disposable drones that can be fired from a ship or plane to help perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions has gone on display at the Farnborough Airshow. Jim Drury reports.
Raytheon's Coyote drones can be deployed from airplanes, warships, or the ground. Fired out of tubes, their wings open automatically, enabling flight. SOUNDBITE (English) TOM BUSSING, VICE PRESIDENT OF ADVANCE MISSILE SYSTEMS AT RAYTHEON, SAYING: "It's designed to have a modular front end, so you can have a variety of sensors. It could be a camera, for example, an imaging camera, it could be an RF receiver. It could be any number of electronic surveillance devices, so you can assemble a variety of different ISR payloads associated with it. You can even arm this, if you choose to and place a warhead on it also." Coyote is designed to be flown in autonomous swarms, like in this recent test flight in Arizona. SOUNDBITE (English) TOM BUSSING, VICE PRESIDENT OF ADVANCE MISSILE SYSTEMS AT RAYTHEON, SAYING: "We can launch up to 30 in the space of less than a minute. They will then group or form up into squadrons or into flights, if you would, and they'll follow a leader and perform manoeuvres on the basis of what the leader is doing. The leader flies essentially a pre-programmed mission and is able to fly to an end point, accomplish the mission, and then land and the entire swarm will land with it." Raytheon, a major US defence contractor, says Coyote offers the military improved surveillance imagery and better missile targeting capability. Damage assessment can be assessed in near real time, while threats to manned aircraft are reduced, says the company. The drone is on display at the Farnborough Airshow. Coyote is already deployed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for hurricane monitoring.