By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All indoor photos contained in this article except for the dual 40mm warhead photo were shot by DefenseReview.com at SOFIC 2010 or SOFIC 2011, and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these photos. The photos were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability). The warhead photo and any/all outdoor photos contained in this article showing TiGER in flight were shot by the good folks at MBDA Missile Systems.
October 31, 2011
DefenseReview (DR) recently published a piece on the AeroVironment (AV) Switchblade backpackable/manpackable “Kamikaze Drone” SUAV/Mini-UAS (Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/Mini-Unmanned Aircraft System/Unmanned Aerial System), but Switchblade isn't the only game in town. In fact, the boys at MBDA Missile Systems have been developing an even smaller and lighter weaponized small UAS/mini-flying bomb solution of their own called TiGER (Tactical Grenade Extended Range). Catchy. DR first saw TiGER at the 2010 NDIA Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (NDIA SOFIC 2010) in sunny Tampa, FL, where we also got acquainted with the MBDA Zuni semi-active laser-guided rocket. We then saw a more finalized version of TiGER earlier this year at SOFIC 2011.
MBDA Missile Systems Vice President Doug Denneny was kind enough to take Defense Review through TiGER a little bit at both SOFIC 2010 and 2011. Based on what DR saw of the system, TiGER would appear to be a handy little lightweight backpackable/manpackable "over the ridge" enemy surveillance/neutralization system/precision-kill weapon. Just unpack it, pull it from the handy transport tube, assemble it, start it up (propeller), and throw it it–oh, and don't forget to boot up the accompanying laptop, which you'll need to control it. TiGER weighs in at approximately 3 lbs (fly-away weight), with one of those pounds being comprised of the weapon's teeth and claws: a dual 40mm grenade warhead–just what the doctor ordered for intransigent enemy insurgents that are dug in like Alabama ticks.
It goes without saying that if you can't sway the enemy with diplomacy and reason, you really have no other choice but to go lethal. In TiGER's case, you're going low-order precision-kill lethal (just like with Switchblade), so you're minimizing collateral damage as much as possible, which is really all anyone, including the media, can reasonably ask. You can see TiGER's dual 40mm grenade warhead at left.
TiGER should prove to be pretty low-observable (i.e., stealthy) visually from the ground (and via radar), since it’s so small AND made out of lightweight composite materials that one would think would be radar-absorptive. TiGER’s wings measure just 24 inches (24”) across. While the inflatable mono-wing DefenseReview saw on the finished product is white, and the “fuselage” is an off-white color, DR would be interested in seeing how a grey-colored wing and fuselage (or grey-scale “Heater camouflage” fuselage and wing) performs with regard to visual stealth at various altitudes and distances from the observer. Since TiGER flies relatively low and slow, any/every cost-effective and viable visual camo solution should be explored. TiGER’s thermal/IR (Infared) signature should be pretty low, so thermal/IR camo is most likely unnecessary.
As you can see in the photo directly below, TiGER is extremely accurate and offers a nice little blast effect on target.
TiGER's a neat little backpackable/manpackable precision-guided flying bomb/"kamikaze drone" lethality solution for infantry warfighters, and should prove combat-effective, provided the complete system is reliable and durable enough under adverse combat conditions.
Our next planned article on MDBA products will be on the SABER semi-active laser-guided small flying bomb for small and medium-sized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and Small Tactical UAS.
In the meantime, the following information comes from an MBDA Missile Systems company document on TiGER:
Issue: MBDA Incorporated, A U.S. missile company, has developed a soldier-carried and hand-launched Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) precision-guided weapon called TiGER.TM
TiGER™ is a small, weaponized Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) designed to be used at the unit level to engage enemies with an onboard dual 40mm warhead. Using two onboard video cameras to relay images back to the operator’s laptop, TiGER™ will allow small units to engage enemy forces and IEDs from a distance and behind obstacles, without exposing the warfighter to direct enemy fires.
TiGER™ has an inflatable wing and a small fuselage, allowing it to be carried by soldiers in a container that will fit inside a rucksack. It is guided by a small mini-computer with a video screen and is controlled by a two way data link and video data link. The vehicle can be launched and guided by a single soldier. It does not require a launcher, or other cumbersome tripods or fixed assets. Optimized for troops on the move with limited resources, it can launch within two minutes of being pulled out of its packing tube. Once launched in the loiter or ISR mode, the vehicle flies on a GPS based autopilot and the soldier can set up waypoints, keep out zones and loiter points. The soldier scans the stabilized video camera footage, with pan, tilt and zoom features. Upon locating the target, the vehicle will contrast lock the target with its front facing camera and dive on the target, detonating the warhead upon impact. The system has a sophisticated safe and arm device and warhead package that has gone through extensive testing and allows for safety in handling and operation.
The U.S. Army released its LMAMS (Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System) Request for Information (RFI) in February, 2010 and AFSOC held a technology demonstration competition for LMAMS in November, 2010. MBDA Incorporated responded to the RFI and competed in the AFSOC LMAMS demonstration in 2010. The system is ready now for customer demonstrations and delivery of military utility assessment vehicles after contract award."
The following information comes from the MBDA TiGER Data Sheet:
TiGER is a small, man-portable, hand-launched, extended-range weapon designed for a rapid response employment to protect deployed troops.
TiGER is a candidate for the U.S. military’s LMAMS (Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System) program.
TiGER is the solution for small tactical units as a counter sniper weapon or destruction of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s), targets beyond effective small arms range, and targets obscured by walls, buildings, or ditches.
TiGER can be used to identify and attack key positions and targets posing an immediate threat to tactical units. With a warhead more effective than a standard grenade, TiGER can effectively kill enemy machine guns, personnel, cars, trucks, tactical vehicles, and crew served weapons.
– Hand launched, precision weapon with 2 mile attack range
– GPS & Inertial Guidance with Man-in-the-Loop targeting
– Employed by the on-site commander, 1lb warhead
– Targets: light vehicles, mortar crews, snipers"
MBDA TiGER Data Sheet (PDF Format)
The following information comes from an MBDA PowerPoint document on TiGER:
Soldier-carried, hand-launched, extended range UAS weapon built in the US
– 3 pound fly away weight
– 1 pound dual 40mm grenade warheads
– Electronic Safe and Arm Device
– Inflatable low visibility wing
– 24 inch wingspan
– Controlled by a small laptop with charts
– GPS/INS autonomous flight to holding
– 15 minutes of flight up to 2 miles away
– Dives onto target with demonstrated 1m CEP
– Locates target with nose or side-mounted camera (visual or IR for night)
– Uses terminal laptop with autotracker
TiGER™ Tactical Considerations •
TiGER™ will provide a precise, Non-line of Sight (NLOS), rapid response, weapon for employment at the discretion of the on-site commander
– Potential applications
– Counter sniper weapon
– Targets beyond effective small arms range
– Targets obscured by walls, buildings, or ditches
– Key positions / targets posing an immediate threat
– Machine guns, personnel, cars, trucks, tactical vehicles, crew served weapons
– Destruction of IED weapon
U.S. Army released an LMAMS RFI (Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System) in February, 2010
MBDA Incorporated responded with TiGER™ (Tactical Grenade Extended Range)"
Company Contact Info:
MBDA Inc. Business Development, Westlake Division
5701 Lindero Canyon Rd., Suite 4-100
Westlake Village, California 91362
Phone: 818-991-0300 Ext. 298
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