Home » Air » Textron’s Remote-Controlled Flying Bomb

Textron’s Remote-Controlled Flying Bomb

by Matt Cox on September 19, 2012

Textron Defense Systems has a new flying drone that’s designed to explode on contact with enemy positions.

The compact BattleHawk Squad Level Loitering Munition is armed with a 40mm high-fragmentation charge. It has a video camera built into its nose, so ground troops can remotely pilot it over rooftops or hills to attack hiding enemy forces.

The BattleHawk weighs about five pounds when it’s packed inside its special launching tube. A spring propels the drone into the air and the electric motor starts up the tiny, rear propeller.

“Once it’s launched, it’s armed,” Mick Guthals, director of Business Strategy & Capture at Textron, said while displaying the BattleHawk at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. Sept. 17–19.

Using a small remote control, ground troops can fly the BattleHawk at speeds up to 60 miles per hour for approximately 30 minutes. The BattleHawk is designed to attack dismounted enemy and light-skinned vehicles, Textron officials said.

So far, the BattleHawk has been an in-house project at Textron, but Guthals said U.S. Special Operations Command units have shown interest in the carbon-fiber, flying explosive. Textron hopes to market it to conventional infantry units as well, he said.

Textron officials would not talk price, but did say the BattleHawk should cost “considerably less” than a similar-sized unmanned aerial vehicle, Guthals said.

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

elmondohummus September 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

"Textron Defense Systems has a new flying drone that’s designed to explode on contact with enemy positions."

So in other words, it's a missile. ;)


I confess, I'm not going to be impressed until we get a Heinleinian-type bomb that announces its intentions in order to demoralize the enemy. " "I'm a thirty second bomb! I'm a thirty second bomb! Twenty-nine! Twenty-eight! Twenty-seven!…"


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

Might even supplement the XM-29. Throw and direct a munition into a window.


I imagine the Mobile Infantry's thirty second bomb had anti-throwback anti-tamper measures, because 30 seconds is plenty of time to cover it or throw it back…


m167a1 September 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

If I recall correctly the device was just for psyops and didn't actually explode.

Rico threw this into a room full of Skinnies and jumped back out as hilarity ensued.


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Haven't read it in a while myself.

Then again, if a bomb doesn't explode…won't the other guy figure this out eventually?

Then again, these are guys who train with blanks, and every Nth round was a live one to keep you on your toes. No wusses in the Mobile Infantry.


elmondohummus September 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

And here I was afraid no one would get the reference. Talk about being wrong in spades. :)

Anyway, I've always thought that the best psyops device would be a bomb that would announce itself to its target. Could you imagine a big, solid object landing in your perimeter, extending a speaker, and saying "I am a thermonuclear device. I will detonate in 10… 9… 8…"?

oneinaminion September 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

This is going back years but wasn't that 'The bomb in the Bathtub'? When it was asked why it had chosen this particular world to destroy its reply was.."Because this is the best of all possible worlds!". LOL


elmondohummus September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm

No, it was from Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie). I had no idea there was any bomb in fiction that would make a Candide reference. :-S

I always did like the bomb having the philisophical discussion in Dark Star, though…

"Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?
Bomb #20: Of course.
Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?
Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.
Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.
Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.
Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?
Bomb #20: Hmmmm… well… I think, therefore I am.
Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?
Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun. "


TrustButVerify September 26, 2012 at 7:53 am

Bless you for reminding me of that wonderful story. Find the internal logic!


Brian Black September 20, 2012 at 5:17 am

For a couple more dollars, you could record your own message – like a greetings card.

"Allahu Akba!!!" *BOOM*


Pappa51 September 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Gee, the RC planes that I have ever had always explode on contact. So what's new with this? LOL really it gives our troops another tool. Cheers


jeff m September 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

How about adding a button that releases the bomb, instead of kamikazi. Make it armed when it flies outside a 10 meter radius of the controller.


@Brianckramer September 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

Because the US will buy anything that explodes.


Riceball September 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

They already have something like that, it's called a bomber.


The Indian September 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

nice device to contain violent islamic protesters. Hope it is lot cheaper than Israel's Heron


Kim September 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Like any other weapon, it can be used by the enemy as well. Remember who's running around with the Stingers the US once generously handed out to the Mujahedin? An inexpensive weapon like this will be as useful for a guerilla force as for a regular army.


Kim September 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

(should have written 'like any other simple weapon'….)


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

They've moved to Strelas in the absence of sufficient missile tubes and BCUs.


@PurpAv September 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

"Armed on launch" is fracking stupid and will get our guys killed. Cheap bastards need to add a $.25 555 timer or inexpensive HS-55 servo on an arming channel.


STemplar September 20, 2012 at 5:28 am

40mm grenades arm when they are fired, what's the difference? The thing comes inside a sealed launch tube like a LAW or AT4.


Davidz September 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm

As far as I know, they're armed by centrifugal force so they need to be successfully launched to arm. And arming takes some tima so that there's some minimum safe range.


John Galt September 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Explodes on contact? Seems an option to air-burst the warhead would be more effective for unarmored personnel.


f1b0nacc1 September 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

You are correct, but it would make the weapon more complex, and thus more likely to failure.

I notice that it is an article of faith here that crooked contractors, corrupt generals, etc. all collaborate to make American weapons overly complex and expensive. More likely it is precisely the process I have seen in this thread, as a group of intelligent, generally well-meaning commenter keep adding bells and whistles to a simple, robust conept in order to incrementally 'improve it'.


TrustButVerify September 26, 2012 at 7:58 am



LeeRetArmy September 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

How is this new?? maybe new to them. Radio control airplanes have been around for awhile people have already done what these guys are doing in their basement. I also agree who would want this thing armed as soon as it launched to many what ifs like motor fails, catches a branch and is flung back towards the launcher. No this is not a safe idea. They need to talk to the terrorist who was building one a year or so ago and see what his plans were.


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

True. But considering a man was recently killed in Afghanistan by a rocket launcher and his killer was discharged due to "horseplay"…makes you wonder sometimes.


Lance September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm

A mini V-1 flying bomb how cute. Might be hard to pack with you high weight and banging it around in combat might damage the wings. Be better for base defense in Afghanistan.


NoSugarAdded September 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Five pounds and is packed in it's own launch tube. It does not sound heavy or damage prone to me.


Riceball September 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

5 pounds now a days is a lot of weight given how much weight the average grunt has to hump these days. When you're already humping upwards of 100 pounds, or more, of body armor, weapon, ammo, water, spare batteries, etc.an extra 5 pounds is going to feel like a lot more. Put it this, right now people are busy working on ways of shaving ounces off of a grunt's kit to try and save weight hoping that a few ounces here and there will add up to pounds.


jamFRIDGE September 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

You forget DARPA’s dog bot


bob smith September 20, 2012 at 9:07 am

actually the wings "roll" up around the body of the drone, and pop open upon leaving the launch tube.


t.c. September 26, 2012 at 3:18 am



Thomas L. Nielsen September 26, 2012 at 6:55 am

I call Poe. Or a spam-bot.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


Musson September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Hope the bad guys don't steal your RF signal!


davidz September 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Good point. I bet it doesn't use very sophisticated encryption (at least compared to bigger drones).
I'm also wondering how hard it would be to shot down such drone. It's small, but 60mph is not that fast.


Riceball September 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm

My guess is that judging by its size its not meant to be used over very long distances, if I had to guess I'd say that it's probably meant to be used in a firefight and not for any sort of long distance strike. If that's the case I don't think that there's much of a worry about hacking because the bad guys won't likely have time to hack it.


@PurpAv September 20, 2012 at 3:01 am

Probably using something like the 2.4Ghz COTS frequency hop tech Futaba sells for model airplanes. If they don't know the receiver's serial number, the chances of getting in synch with the hop pattern in time to do anything would be minimized, since each xmit/recv pair starts in a different spot You could try a broad spectrum jam though, but even then any reasonable system would have a fail-safe mode when link is lost.


LetsLobRob September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Not much thought went into this "idea".


benny September 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I'll bet it's got the Packies all upset. Now a foot soldier can launch on his own and the Packie radar won't pick it up so they warn the Tallies. Low collateral damage also. Now if we could just put an IR seeker on it set to body heat. Launch swarms of them by the thousands from Afgan east to Packie west.


f1b0nacc1 September 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Thats 'paki' you prik


Kim September 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

That's 'prick' with a 'c'…..


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Something this small would be vastly preferrable to waiting for air support just to drop a bomb on a building.

"Hey, we've chased them into that building"

"Let's surround them and hit them with this tiny bomb. No JDAMs, guided hellfires, SDBs, Viper Strike…and in the absence of an XM-29 or firing a TOW missile at it…"

Edit: And command guidance tends to be super accurate, versus the risks associated with a MLRS rocket unitary warhead, SDB, Paveways, Hellfires, smart 70mm rockets…

Everything GPS/INS guided has a CEP which only gets worse when the signal is bad. Then there's radar and IR stuff, with its own weaknesses. Then there's remote guided, which might not work in bad weather unless it comes with appropriate expensive doohickeys.


RunningBear September 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Three times heavier than a LAWS, but can loiter for 1 hour and packs a 40mm grenade round; with camera guided and gps. If the 11Bravos don't have to carry the M-60 belts, then this might be a good trade. Would be nice to whip out a laptop and "smoke" a hider behind the big rock! :)


Guest September 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Great, more to hump.

And we already have the capability anyway.

60mm gps mortar…check


tmb2 September 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Guess we'll have to wait and see how much the launcher weighs and how many of these can be carried. 5 pound 40mm warhead that can be piloted out to 20 miles – could that be a replacement for the 60mm mortar? It would probably be way more expensive than using the mortar, but I imagine you could find a use to carry a few of these around. The 60mm mortar weighs about 40 pounds without ammo. How much does a basic load of rounds weigh?


Guest September 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

Where is the part about 20 mile controllability for the vehicle? Does an infantry platoon need a 40mm effect 20miles away? TACAIR/ Army Aviation/ GPS artillery/ GPS MLRS are existing solutions for that, and they don't have to be humped around at all. And when the remote controlled air bomb is kamikazeed , the surveillance capability is lost. Special ops? Maybe. They get sharks with firkin laser beams all the time anyway. Hope they are happy with another expensive program.


blight_ September 20, 2012 at 11:56 am

Probably a guess, based on

"Using a small remote control, ground troops can fly the BattleHawk at speeds up to 60 miles per hour for approximately 30 minutes. The BattleHawk is designed to attack dismounted enemy and light-skinned vehicles, Textron officials said."

Of course, I imagine this is under a specific set of testing circumstances not necessarily representative with what happens in the field, but…


tmb2 September 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Which is why I threw out 20 miles instead of 30 in case the rep was overstating his case.

Guest September 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Fair enough. Are we giving up any mortar capability if we trade 60mm for these 40mm guided rounds? Marking? Illum? Is that stuff standard load? Also the info claims "squad level". Do we carry mortar at squad level? Are we back to adding more to the basic load for those guys?


tmb2 September 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Here is a picture of the battlehawk being launched.



Wizard September 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm

that is actually Prioria's Maveric lethal variant in the picture – apparently battlehawk has never flown


Tiger September 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Looks like the Nerf football of death. Just small enough For a sniper team to carry as a problem solver. Cool


Hefe September 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I like the strategic thought behind it. In a firefight, one team can deliver suppressing fire thus holding the enemy in position, while a one or two man team delivers the fatal blow to an enemy squad with that piece of equipment. Whenever our guys have options they make good use of them. It remains to be seen if it is reliable though. I do agree that it should be armed as it's in the air and away from our guys though.


jamFRIDGE September 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Based on a picture posted above, it looks capable of being remotely launched.


traindodger September 20, 2012 at 4:18 am

Y'know, I've been saying for years that miniature cruise missiles like this are the wave of the future.

But… arms on launch, explodes on contact? Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick!

Yeah, that's exactly what I want for Christmas. A cheap little RC plane that nosedives into the ground immediately after becoming airborne and then pelts me with 40 mike-mike fragments.

Actually, since it's networked-fire and launched from a tube, I suppose you could set it up (or set up a bunch of them) and then get well clear.


Sanem September 20, 2012 at 4:25 am

what you want are gps guided grenades, not unlike those used in the XM-25
to be fired from any underslung grenade launcher or the XM-25, a pocket size personal mortar


Buzolich September 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

Nerf Footbal of Death!!! LOL!!!!


Roy September 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

One way to clear out "Occupy'ers"


FormerDirtDart September 20, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Just over a year ago DefenseTech reported on the Army buying some of Aerovironment's "Switchblade" UAV/smart bomb. Surprised they didn't link to the article. http://defensetech.org/2011/09/08/army-buying-kam


@strutty21 September 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

NIce! A thinking M203. Some kewl comments too


domingo September 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Redesign that thing,make it simple that it could be fired using cheap RPG or any American made grenade launcher we currently used.


james September 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

Now just tune this thing in to the unique radio signature of each cell phone and your cell phone is now a targeting device as well as a tracking and monitoring device. And this device is so small easy and cheap you can expect to see your police departments roll it out. First with tear gas or knock out gas, then with lethal weapons.
We are in SO MUCH TROUBLE in this country.


10thMD September 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hopefully this has the potential to drop the payload, then have the wings and propulsion system to return home for re-arming for another mission.


@PurpAv September 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The Soviets and Nazis painted air dropped AP mines bright colors so kids would play with them.


ziv September 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Unfortunately our cluster bombs used to use bright yellow paint on the sub-munitions and since they had a nearly 5% failure to detonate rate (for the sub-munitions, not the weapon as a whole), we used to scatter UXO all over Afghanistan and Iraq. Even more unfortunately, UXO like these sub-munitions can occasionally explode at any time. We may not have meant to have it happen, but there are quite a few Afghani kids missing hands, and not a few that are dead, because of the cluster munitions failure rate.


blight_ September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I thought they were still brightly painted.

The other problem is due to the shape, they got picked up a lot…this goes for American and Soviet submunitions. It wasn't pretty.

Even before 9/11, Afghanistan was known as one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Nothing like a decade or two of warfare followed by civil war to do a country in.


tmb2 September 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Or the Spaceballs self destruct that ended with "2…1…0…Have a nice day!"


4FingersOfBourbon September 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Did something like this as an undergrad. Thought exploding was a good idea but on lauch? Hey a 203 is armed from the get go….


tmb2 September 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Actually the M203 rounds are armed in mid flight when the safety pin falls out after a dozen meters or so.


TrustButVerify September 26, 2012 at 7:57 am

Presumably they considered that when writing the "fuzing" software. I'd guess that it doesn't consider itself "launched" until it's hit a specific velocity… or something.


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