L-3, Raytheon Develop Laser-Guided Rocket for Small Boats

TALON launchL-3 and Raytheon have teamed up to develop small boat protection systems using precision-guided 2.75-inch rockets that draws upon laser technology and sensors to pinpoint targets.

While able to fit a number of configurations including potential land and sea applications, the weapon is ideally designed for small boats and littoral environments.  In particular, developers say the weapon would be well suited for patrol craft, riverines, fast attack craft or small boats called corvettes, its developers said.

Called the TALON-RWS, the system combines Raytheon’s TALON 2.75 inch rockets with L-3s Remote Weapons System, or RWS, said Don Linnell, director of business development, integrated optical systems, L-3.

Both Raytheon and L-3’s respective parts of the system have been in existence for a number of years.

“There’s been minimal investment needed because they are both proven systems. We mount the TALON on the RWS,” Linnell added.

Raytheon’s TALON is a 2.75-inch rocket that features a digital semi-active laser guidance system that is being developed with the United Arab Emirates, said John Eagles, a Raytheon spokesman.

“Talon’s architecture and ease of employment make it a low-cost, highly precise weapon for mission in urban environments, counter insurgency and swarming boat defense missions,” Eagles said.

The precision-guided weapon could be offensive or defensive, Linnell and Eagles said.

“There are all sorts of weapons trade studies being done now to address small swarming boats. This would be an option for that. It is rapid fire, laser-guided, accurate and quickly reloadable,” Eagles said.

The weapons are engineered to be lightweight in order to be mounted on small boats or vehicles. The mount, sensor package and missile pod fully loaded weigh about 500 pounds.

Linnell said the TALON-RWS could provide a mobile, light weight precision weapon that might be preferable to the protective weapons used today by most small boats in the Navy.

The sensor is a configurable electro-optical camera which combines with a laser designator and laser rangefinder to locate targets.

The TALON-RWS has been tested at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., where it was fired successfully from a land-based structure, Linnell said. More tests are planned, including one where the TALON-RWS will shoot try to shoot down a UAS, he said.

During the recent Surface Navy Association Annual Symposium, Chief Naval Officer Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the Navy is arming patrol craft with Griffin missiles in an effort to make sure small boats have sufficient armament and protection.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Ben

    *Cough*LCS*Cough*

    • William_C1

      This would probably be better for smaller ships like the Cyclone class patrol boats. The LCS would be better off with a variant of the Hellfire, although for some reason the USN is going forward with the smaller, shorter-ranged, Griffin missile ever since the NLOS-LS was cancelled.

      A variant of the JCM/JAGM which is/was the planned replacement for Hellfire would work too, but that program doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast.

      The “Sea Spear” variant of the Brimstone missile the UK is trying to sell is a promising option, and the Israeli Spike-ER or Spike-NLOS missile are potential options as well.

  • tee

    These could be put in a lot of combat environments, as the article states in small boats, on light Armored vehicles, and is already in use by the Marines on the Cobra Z. There are mock-ups of vehicles using dual 19 shot pods being considered by a current government . They are cheap and the US has a lot of the older 2.75 rockets around in inventory that can be rebuilt with the new seeker head very cheaply. So IMO we should be up-grading the old ones and designing new platforms to fire them ASAP.

  • blight_

    Wonder if these could be put onto Humvees as pocket artillery.

    • https://www.facebook.com/ReverendClint Clint Notestine

      21st century Katyusha

  • ohwilleke

    Are there any weight and dimensions estimate for these? The photograph doesn’t have any good reference points, and I don’t see a reference link in the article for more detail.

    • Ben

      The article comes with words for a reason…

    • KainTuckBuck

      500 pounds, loaded with seven TALONs. They key dimension is the cannister, which is six feet long. The supports/legs can be configured in different manners but three feet across is a good estimate.

  • Tom Billings

    Since this is a derivative of their basic Hydra 70 Rocket, it should weigh between 15 and 20 pounds with the seeker attached.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_70

    • Bob Whatley

      Were you in Heidelberg back in the day. Bob W.

  • WonderBoy

    OK, development cost is low and tha’t a nice percision weapon; but how effective would it be against swarm attacks?
    range- a swarm with 122mm will out-range the 2.75″ rocket
    rate of fire- this system can engage only one target at a time; only one laser designator. The swarm may still get through and kill a 600M$ LCS.

    Against swarms, I’d look for “brilliant” autonomous guided shells for the 57mm gun.

    • d. kellogg

      There are current laser designators in service that have various means of “pulse coding”, allowing the same designator to lase for more than 1 missile impacting within close proximity to the primary aim point.

      As to various calibers outranging other rockets, FWIW Brazil’s AVIBRAS Skyfire 70 system has various 70mm types like the US Hydra, but Brazil has a variant ranging to 12km.
      Makers of these precision kits should keep in mind that various customers have various calibers, so the money-makers will be the designs that are “caliber indiscriminate”, where the tech is adaptable to any size unguided rocket type.

      As to guided 57mm shells…
      EAPS is using 50mm, so porting the tech over at least in theory should work.
      http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2012armaments/Wednesday1

    • SJE

      Not all boats have 57mm gun and this seems like a lightweight backup.

    • Skeptical Observer

      …or CIWS

  • PolicyWonk

    Whenever I see the term “low-cost” used by defense contractors, I cringe.

    Missiles always cost a lot more than shells (they have a much higher profit margin), and the defense industry generally therefore prefer to deemphasize guns. Nothing like a hugely expensive missile to kill a comparatively cheap powerboat!

    OTOH, if the navy buys a lot of these, then the concern regarding the swarm of speedboat problem that gave birth to the nightmare known as LCS can be put to rest, and thats one more corporate welfare program that could be safely cancelled.

  • eelmont

    If you have 20 small boats approach an LCS, how can you tell which one is full of explosives, while the rest are innocent? This sounds like a good non-lethal way of taking out a boat- at the water line, or the motor. War is hell, but you don’t want to give the aspiring Pulitzer Prize authors anymore than you have to. That is worth a lot on it’s own.

    • Joe_Sovereign

      I am not sure how non-lethal a 2.75 inch rocket would be to a speed boat.

      • ajspades

        As with all shooting, it depends where you hit.
        The rockets could be equipped with different fuzing options (airburst, impact, or delayed) depending on the target.
        The article is pretty thin on details for the fuzing and warhead options.

        • d. kellogg

          Effectively, the 70mm rocket family has, over the years, been compared to anything from a 75mm artillery shell thru a 105mm artillery shell. It all depends on the warhead size, really.

          In addition to the “unitary” HE warheads, there have also ben other useful types, including a flechette jam-packed with a couple thousand little darts.

          Wood, fiberglass, or thin sheet metal boats should be no threat at all.
          http://www.gdatp.com/factsheets/A064_Hydra-70.pdf http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/275

  • Hunter76

    Directed energy weapons seem to be coming into their own. When they do, there’ll be a lot of fall out among our current projectiles and missiles.

    • Ben

      Mmmmaybe.

      Directed energy weapons are fantastic, but they’re limited by line of sight and atmospheric conditions. Missiles and projectiles can hit targets from much greater ranges. The two types compliment each other.

  • Lance

    Only problem when using rockets they travel a lot further and can cause collateral damage too.

  • Jim Palazzolo

    SRM-6 with Artemis

  • pedro

    This reminds me of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) made by their competitors.
    I wonder if they have similar characteristics or if they are two completely different systems (one is airborne and the other one is land/sea based after all).

    • RAID-R

      They’re very similar, and both were made for heli launch. Similar again to Lockheed’s DAGR.

  • d. kellogg

    AIUI, the final production iteration of the APKWS II is in “kit form” that can be inserted into a wide number of 70mm rocket types, between the rocket motor assembly aft and the warhead section forward.
    Not so much as a “bolt on”, but rather a “separate the rocket in the mid section and install the APKWS II guidance package, then re-assemble rocket.”
    http://www.baesystems.com/article/BAES_051867?_af

    TALON appears to use a single nose-mounted seeker, not the fin-mounted detectors used in the APKWS II system, so I don’t know if it’s an upgrade that can be done in the field to unguided rockets, or if the rounds must come pre-assembled from the factory as an all-up munition.

  • Chris

    A solution looking for a problem. Haven’t I seen M2’s and Miniguns hanging off the side of Navy ships for protection from small boats. I’m aware that most sailors can’t hit anything with them but the ocean, but that is a different issue.

    • blight_

      Guessing they want to kill them as far away from the more expensive ships as possible.

      Perhaps the navy will procure patrol boats again and properly arm them.

      • Praetorian

        Range will still be an issue, the cancelled NLOS missile was going to have a 25 mile range. The Griffin has a 3.42 mile ( 5.5 km ) when fired from the ground, and a hydra has a range of 8000 m.

    • d. kellogg

      An old saying I’ve seen years ago, roughly that “any USN ships carrying Marines, has all the 50-cal firepower it needs.”

      Meaning, Marine units had their own 50-cals o ship, and could as-needed pintle them a lot of places along the ship wherever needed.

      As we are more high-tech now, CROWS type systems should be the minimal norm, as they feature day/night thermal and optical sensors with scene magnification that outperform the human eye.

      pay close attention to pages 12 & 23 here, as to what could be mounted… http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2010armament/TuesdayLand

  • muskrat

    I want one for my 34-footer

  • carissa

    Hi All,
    Does anyone know where the TALON laser systems are manufactured? In Texas or California? Wondering if any of my friends in those facilities got the contract. :)

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