Raytheon Missiles & Defense announced it recently completed its first flight test of an air-launched effects drone based on the Coyote uncrewed aircraft system design.
The ALE air vehicle design meets the US Army’s defined specifications for size, weight and power requirements for the Future Vertical Lift program.
For the test, the team demonstrated a launch of an ALE configuration intended for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
According to the company, the ALE air vehicle was ground launched from the canister, spread its wings, and accomplished stable flight. All test objectives were achieved, including low-altitude launch, wing and flight surface deployment, and stable air vehicle flight control.
The launch was the first in a series of increasingly complex, near-term flight tests that will advance the ALE air vehicle’s design, including payload integration, and further demonstrate its performance and maturity.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense is one of three companies awarded Other Transaction Authority contracts in August 2020 to produce ALE air vehicle designs. Raytheon Technologies businesses were also chosen for projects aimed at developing ALE mission systems and payloads.
The US Army envisions ALE as a crucial piece of the Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft Ecosystem. It extends tactical and operational reach and lethality of manned assets, allowing them to remain outside of the range of enemy sensors and weapon systems while delivering kinetic and non-kinetic, lethal and non-lethal mission effects against multiple threats, as well as, providing battle damage assessment data. They will provide scalable effects to detect, locate, disrupt, decoy, and/or deliver lethal effects against threats.
As relatively low cost systems, ALE are attritable or optionally recoverable.
“Leveraging the maturity of the Coyote design, we are well-positioned to offer the Army a reliable, sustainable and cost-effective air-launched effects air vehicle,” said Tom Laliberty, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Our solution’s modular open systems architecture design means it can rapidly integrate new technologies to take on advanced threats and protect aircrews in future high-end fights.”