Engineers at the US Army’s Army Research Lab (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Ground have filed a patent application for the Grenade Launched Unmanned Aerial System (GLUAS), a 40mm grenade launcher delivered drone, complete with camera. The GLUAS can be fired from an issue M320 or M203 launcher without modification.
Two variants are under development – one uses paraglide-like technology whilst the second is a rotary platform that can hover over a target area. Both variants have a reported two kilometer range and can operate aloft for up to 90 minutes. Maximum ceiling height is 2,000 feet.
The GLUAS will likely be upgraded with GPS receivers, allowing the precise location of enemy forces to be transmitted in real-time to the operator and allowing company or battalion indirect fire assets to prosecute the target. John Gerdes, an engineer with ARL, noted; “Things like GPS receivers and flight controllers are very feasible to install, which makes it easy to maintain a position or follow a ground unit. Basically, if there is something you want to look at, but you have no idea where it is yet, that’s where the drone comes in.”
Although the GLUAS will give similar performance to existing issued platforms such as the Black Hornet, the GLUAS can be launched in less time. Indeed, a fire team or squad leader need only direct a grenadier to load and fire the GLUAS before it’s in the air. It also becomes just another option within the 40mm grenade complement carried by the grenadier along with HEDP (high explosive dual purpose), smoke and less-than-lethals.
Other 40mm launched UAS systems are available including the Australian DefendTex Drone-40 (which Overt Defense previously reported on) although the DefendTex product is designed as a kinetic platform for counter-UAS or as a loitering munition in the style of the successful AeroVironment Switchblade.