A Royal Air Force sponsored event has witnessed the first launch of a Thales-developed Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from an unmanned aerial system.
Teams from Turkish Flyby Technology and Thales, which manufactures the LMM, successfully completed a six-week trial of two operational JACKAL drones sponsored by the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). The trial culminated in the successful firing of two LMMs at a designated target.
Thales said the demonstration showed its capability to fulfill various roles, such as battlefield air interdiction, close air support, anti-helicopter operations, anti-tank capabilities, and disrupting the use of runways and roads.
According to the company, the new drone represents a major leap forward in unmanned air combat capabilities. It offers a range of features, including long-range sensors and a high-performance engine, which allow it to operate in a wide range of conditions.
“Given the impressively short time scale it took the team to deliver the initial trial, it’s clear that Flyby could have an exciting future in this sector, and the partnering and support from Thales was outstanding in lowering the barriers to entry for innovative start-ups,” Air Commodore Jez Holmes, head of the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office, said.
“One of the unique selling points of LMM is its ability to be integrated onto multiple platforms, including armored vehicles, helicopters, naval vessels or indeed, shoulder-launchers, each designed to address different threats,” Philip McBride, managing director of Thales in Northern Ireland, said.
The team behind JACKAL say they are currently working on plans to bring the technology to market, while also making additional improvements and tactical developments to the aircraft.
The JACKAL drone’s vertical takeoff and landing capabilities provide a solution for nations without access to attack helicopters or modern fighter jets.