TechLoitering munitions revolutionise battlefield strategy at ILA fair

Loitering munitions revolutionise battlefield strategy at ILA fair

Hero-30 loitering munition
Hero-30 loitering munition
Images source: © Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS

22 June 2024 06:41

During this year's edition of the ILA defence trade fair, Rheinmetall and UVision presented the Hero family of loitering munitions. This weapon system combines the advantages of anti-tank guided missiles and drones. Loitering munitions enhance infantry units' abilities to reconnoitre and destroy targets at long distances in a very short time.

The term loitering munition refers to weaponry that can remain undetected over the battlefield or behind the front lines for an extended period and attack at the operator's chosen moment. The Hero family of loitering munitions operates on this principle. While loitering over a selected area, its observation sensors can detect and track enemy movements, automatically analyse possible targets, and suggest high-value targets.

The Hero loitering munition

Throughout the process, a human remains in the command loop and ultimately decides whether to carry out the attack. Furthermore, an attack can be aborted at any moment, and Hero will ascend to a higher altitude, reverting to standby mode to execute an attack at a later time or on a different target. This gives ground forces a high degree of flexibility. In the absence of worthwhile targets, Hero can be recovered and reused.

Hero family ammunition can be fired from portable launchers by a single soldier.
Hero family ammunition can be fired from portable launchers by a single soldier.© Rheinmetall | YKMULTIMEDIA

Hero results from the collaboration between Germany's Rheinmetall and Israel's UVision. Both companies signed a cooperation agreement in 2021. The US Marine Corps already utilise this type of munition. Additionally, in September, Hero-30 was ordered by the special forces of a European NATO country. The latest order comes from Hungary. Deliveries of an undisclosed number of systems will be carried out from 2024 to 2025, and the contract is valued at over 85 million pounds (approximately 108 million dollars).

From a soldier's perspective, the system's key advantage is its ease of use. Hero can be launched from a pneumatic launcher with low radar, thermal, acoustic, and visual signatures. After launch, it offers substantial tactical flexibility to the unit. For example, control of Hero can be transferred mid-air from one operator to another, meaning that the munition can be handed over to the unit that most needs it. Control can also be transferred several command levels higher to the main command post. The munition is designed to operate in environments with GPS and radio signal jamming.

Hero can be launched from vehicle-mounted launchers or soldier-carried launchers resembling mortars. Additionally, the launcher can be installed on boats or warships, and even attached to aircraft.

The Hero munition family comprises five models: Hero-30, Hero-120, Hero-400EC, Hero-900, and Hero-1250. The smallest, Hero-30, weighs 3 kg, has a warhead weight of 0.5 kg, a range of 9.5 km, and a flight endurance of 30 minutes. Hero-120 weighs 12 kg, with a warhead weight of 4.5 kg, a range of 40 km, and a flight endurance of 60 minutes. Hero-400EC weighs 40 kg, with a warhead weight of 10 kg, a range of 60 km, and a flight endurance of 2 hours. Hero-900 weighs 90 kg, with a warhead weight of 25 kg, a range of 150 km, and a flight endurance of 2 hours. Finally, the largest model, Hero-1250, weighs 125 kg, with a warhead weight of 50 kg, a range of 200 km, and a flight endurance of up to 6 hours. Models 30, 120, and 400 have electric propulsion, while the 900 and 1250 models use combustion engines.

Hero can be an element of armament for combat vehicles
Hero can be an element of armament for combat vehicles© Rheinmetall
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