Raytheon's new Pyros small tactical munition has passed an end-to-end live test with flying colors. The Pyros was dropped from a Cobra unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to demonstrate the glide bomb's semi-active laser and GPS guidance modes, its height-of-burst sensor for standoff detonation above a target, its electronic safe and arm device, and the new five pound NammoTalley multi-effects warhead.

The conditions of the test were intended to closely approximate those which typically occur during current "contingency operations" (read special-ops). The scenario was that insurgents were in the process of planting an improvised explosive device. The Pyros was guided to dead center of the target, and then detonated at a preset height over the target to permanently terminate the threat.

At 13.5 pounds (6.1 kg) in weight, 22 inches (56 cm) in length, and 3.6 inches (9 cm) in diameter, Pyros is the smallest air-launched weapon in the Raytheon portfolio – small enough to be dropped from the U.S. military's common launch tube.

Pyros small tactical munition being mounted on the drop rail of a Cobra UAV

Originally sporting a seven pound (3.2 kg) warhead, Raytheon says the new warhead clips two pounds (0.9 kg) of weight while providing improved blast-fragment characteristics. Costing in the neighborhood of US$35K per unit, Pyros is built for delivery via UAV, but is also well suited for light attack aircraft such as the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B, which could carry dozens of Pyros small tactical munitions (STMs) on missions.

Having a wingspan of 10.2 feet (3.1 m), a length of 9.3 feet (2.8 m), and a takeoff weight over 100 pounds (45 kg), the Raytheon Cobra is about one-third the size of the better known General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and could easily be mistaken for a "giant-scale" radio controlled model airplane, some of which have wingspreads greater than 20 feet (6.1 m) and weigh well over two hundred pounds (91 kg).

In fact, the Cobra's single engine is a Desert Aircraft DA-150 air-cooled, two-cycle, two-cylinder power plant designed for giant-scale model planes that produces 16.5 horsepower from just over nine cubic inches (150 cc) displacement, and weighs eight pounds (3.6 kg). Needless to say, the guidance and communication equipment on the Cobra won't be found at your neighborhood model airplane park.

A Cobra UAV stands ready to deliver the Pyros Small Tactical Munition mounted on its drop rail

"All systems functioned perfectly," said Tom Bussing, vice president of Advanced Missile Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. "This test demonstrated the technical maturity of Pyros, which is designed from the ground up with small, tactical unmanned aircraft systems in mind."

The Raytheon video below shows the weapon's first guided flight test.

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