Feeds

Israelis offer unmanned robo smart-missile 8-pack

Tanks? Artillery? Airstrikes? So 20th century

The next step in data security

Israel appears to have stolen a march on America in the matter of multipack unmanned cruise missile-in-a-box packages. An Israeli maker is exhibiting its "Jumper" robo missile pack as ready for sale, while the rival US "Netfires" system is still in development.

The Jumper missile system. Credit: IAI

Gunners? Mortars? Close Air? How quaint

The idea of such weapons is simple. A large box (looks like a festival toilet to us) contains several vertically-launched missiles, along with its own communications and power. It's generally light enough to be driven about by a Humvee or similar, parachuted down from a transport plane, dropped off by helicopter, tied down on the deck of a ship or barge etc. It needs no crew in operation.

Once the box is in place, it awaits orders. A soldier far off, or an aircraft or UAV, can mark a target using map coordinates - and light it up with a laser pointer for extra precision if required. As soon as firing authority is given - perhaps by a remote command post, or by the commander on the ground - a missile leaps up out of the box and flies to the designated coordinates using GPS satnav and inertial navigation.

On arrival, it plunges out of the sky and strikes as precisely as a smart bomb - even hitting moving targets if laser pointing is available. Scratch one tank, pickup truck, building or whatever.

So far, so blah - anyone with air or modern artillery support can do this already.

But that's the point, in fact. Keeping aircraft overhead - even unmanned ones - costs a lot of money and ties up a lot of people. Having a battery of guns or normal bombardment rockets to hand is even worse: more people, on the ground this time, and all the ammo and fuel etc has to be shipped all the way into the field.

With things like Jumper or the American Netfires/Non Line Of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), you might not need mortar platoons, artillery regiments and strike air nearly so much. And with any soldier packing a targeting laser able to knock out tanks by the dozen, you might not bother with them so much either.

In short, if smart-missile multipack boxes catch on, there could be a serious change to the way armed forces are organised. They'd contain, potentially, a lot more combat troops, as the business of providing fire support would be automated and becomes merely an offshoot of logistics - moving boxes about.

Until now, the main visible contender in the field was the slowly-gestating NLOS-LS. But yesterday Israel Aerospace Industries announced that Jumper is ready to go. IAI say their box holds 8 missiles as opposed to the NLOS-LS' 15*. Jumper is said to offer range of 50km, "several possible warheads", "pinpoint accuracy and short time of flight ... regardless of weather and visibility".

It'll be interesting to see how all this pans out. ®

Bootnote

*It's no coincidence that both systems hold one less than a square number: the comms and power gear fits into the space occupied by a single missile cell.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.