Textron’s Remote-Controlled Flying Bomb

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.

About the Author

Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • elmondohummus

    “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!…”

  • jeff m

    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.

  • The Indian

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

  • “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

      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

        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

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

    • f1b0nacc1

      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


  • LeeRetArmy

    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.

  • Lance

    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

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

    • bob smith

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

    • t.c.


      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        I call Poe. Or a spam-bot.

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

  • Musson

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

    • davidz

      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

        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.

    • 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

    Not much thought went into this “idea”.

  • benny

    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.

  • blight_

    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

    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

    Great, more to hump.

    And we already have the capability anyway.

    60mm gps mortar…check

    • tmb2

      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?

  • tmb2

    Here is a picture of the battlehawk being launched.


    • Wizard

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

  • Tiger

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

  • Hefe

    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

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

  • traindodger

    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

    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

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

  • Roy

    One way to clear out “Occupy’ers”

  • FormerDirtDart

    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://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/2011/09/08/army-buying-kam

  • NIce! A thinking M203. Some kewl comments too

  • domingo

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

  • james

    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

    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.