We have been covering how the U.S. Army is looking at high-energy weapon systems to counter unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones and have even commissioned some of the prototypes. However, nothing beats the visual satisfaction of a drone being brought down after being blasted to pieces. Raytheon Missiles and Defense recently released a video of its Coyote drones doing just that.
The Coyote drones are tube-launched small drones that were first aimed to be used in swarms in intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, its makers state on their website. The small size and dispensable nature of the drones also made them ideal for hurricane hunting, and they were also deployed for this purpose when Hurricane Maria struck in 2017. However, the U.S. Army looks at them as near term solution to counter enemy drones and Coyote is performing this role to perfection.
The video above shows that these expendable drones can be fired from a palletized launcher system as well as the Army's all-terrain vehicles with equal ease. A striking difference between the Coyote that we have seen earlier and the ones deployed in these trials is the absence of the pop-out wings and the limiting the control surfaces to the tail section, giving them a more of a missile-like appearance than that of a drone.
As we had reported in our previous coverage last year, when Coyote took down drone swarms, the tube launch sees a rocket motor being fired at first which provides the initial thrust, and then the jet engine takes over. The incredible part of the video, however, is the ring of fire that is formed as the Coyote approaches its target.
The Drive credits this to the blast fragmentation warheads being used in these drones. The result is the explosion of the Coyote with a ring-shaped blast pattern and the fireworks that accompany took down quite a few drones, whether at high altitude or at a low one, as Raytheon highlighted in its video.
The Drive also points towards a video shared by a BBC World Service correspondent in Iraq, Nafiseh Kohnavard about a suicide drone attack at Al Assad base in Iraq that was thwarted by defense systems on Jan 4.
BREAKING— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 4, 2022
Footage taken by US defensive systems, C-RAM at Ain Al Asad Air Base shows the moment that “two suicide drones” were engaged & shot down pic.twitter.com/b8T5oW6NVU
The similarity of the explosive pattern seen in this video is unmissable and raises the question of whether the Coyote has already been deployed overseas to protect the U.S. troops.
A similar suicide attack, a day prior near Baghdad airport was averted by the C-RAM system.