View Full Version : Predator tweaked for bunker busting

06-22-05, 10:32 AM
June 27, 2005

Missile reworked for urban fight
Predator tweaked for bunker busting

By Laura Bailey
Times staff writer

After the heavy urban combat Marines saw last spring in Fallujah, Iraq, it became apparent to some that the Corps’ anti-armor missiles did not quite fit the bill for the city fight.
Marines needed a shoulder-fired missile they could use against buildings and bunkers — one they could fire from inside a building.

But the same top-down flight path that makes the Predator Short Range Assault Weapon ideal for hitting heavy armor where it’s weakest left Marines at a disadvantage when taking on a fortified building.

So at the Corps’ request, manufacturer Lockheed Martin took the Predator — the Corps had already signed a contract for 700 systems — and modified 400 of them to fire a new missile more suited for urban combat. The modified versions were delivered in December.

“We didn’t have to go out and procure an additional warhead. It was all there,” said Michael Woodson, project officer for the SRAW at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va.

Lockheed Martin tweaked the Predator’s software and shortened its warhead to come up with the SRAW Multi-Purpose Variant. The launcher remains the same.

The new missile flies in a direct line to its target, making it more suitable for attacking buildings, bunkers and lightly armored vehicles, said Andy Hawkins, the program’s manager at Lockheed Martin.

The 140mm weapon has a range of up to 600 meters and can be fired safely from inside buildings — it uses the same two-stage motor technology as the larger Javelin anti-armor system — so gunners don’t have to expose themselves, Woodson said.

A launch motor ejects from the tube, with a flight motor engaging once the projectile is five meters down range, Woodson said.

“That’s what allows it to have a fire-from-enclosure capability where you don’t have a large sound pressure that you’re dealing with or a lot of toxicity or back-blast,” Woodson said. “It’s a relatively benign event.”

The engagement procedures are largely the same for both variants, making training time minimal for gunners, Woodson said.

Hawkins said Lockheed completed the conversions in six months after performing engineering, safety, accuracy and qualification tests at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.

Laura Bailey covers Marine Corps Systems Command. She can be reached at (703) 750-8687 or lbailey@marinecorpstimes.com.


06-22-05, 10:32 AM
June 27, 2005

New weapons would warn vehicles at checkpoints

By Laura Bailey
Times staff writer

The Corps is developing a non-lethal weapon that could reduce the number of tragedies occurring at Iraqi checkpoints when civilians do not understand the warnings Marines give.
The Non-lethal Tube Launched Munition is a vehicle-mounted launching system that fires heavy volumes of flash-bang pyrotechnic rounds in the direction of approaching vehicles to warn drivers.

“We want to have a clear warning that, hey if you get any closer, it’s not going to be good,” said Brian Fulks, concepts and requirements officer for Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s Non-Lethal Weapons Programs office.

The command has had a prototype of the weapon for more than a year; approval to fast-track weapon production likely will come before the end of June, said Ray Grundy, deputy director for Non-Lethal Weapons Programs.

The decision would come just days after five civilians were killed when the driver of their vehicle did not slow down as they approached a Marine checkpoint in Ramadi, Iraq.

Moments earlier, the driver of a suicide-bomb vehicle had attacked the same checkpoint, and the Marines reportedly believed the civilians were part of a second wave of attacks.

Grundy said the Corps could help prevent such incidents by installing the nonlethal weapons at checkpoints and atop Humvees so Marines would have a warning device more powerful than a shouting voice and less lethal than a .50-caliber machine gun.

“Our intent is to protect the innocent, the family that’s going to the market,” Grundy said. “If you unload 60 of these rounds, there’s no doubt the average sane person is going to pull off the road or stop,” he said.

The rounds from the weapon detonate in the air above approaching vehicles at ranges of up to 400 meters.

The launcher can also be loaded with other nonlethal rounds, such as a “sting ball,” for use against hostile crowds, Grundy said.

Grundy said the weapon is still in development and a manufacturer has not been officially selected.

If an urgent universal needs statement is approved, Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Va., would start production of 250 warning systems for deployment to Iraq within the next year, Grundy said.