American special operator will soon receive a new handheld loitering munition that can also act as a recoverable surveillance drone, it was announced on Thursday. The munition, dubbed the ROC-X, was developed by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
According to a press release, the Israeli company, signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD), to deliver the ROC-X, a version of the company’s Point Blank system, that makes small tactical teams more lethal and survivable.
The IWTSD is responsible for acquiring new weapons for the Army, particularly for special operations forces missions.
The system looks like a miniature X-wing fighter from Star Wars while in flight. It can land vertically back in the soldier’s hand after a mission. It weighs about 15 lbs and is about three feet long and can fly at altitudes above 1,500 ft. It has a maximum speed of 178 mph and can hover or loiter in the air while the target and its position are being confirmed.
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IAI says that ROC-X is very accurate. According to the company, the system’s Circular Error Probability, which uses the radius of a circle to determine the average distance between the target and the end of the munition’s flight path, is less than one meter for both stationary and moving targets.
Ten systems will be delivered for operational testing and evaluation by SOCOM, the U.S.’s special operations command, during Fiscal Year 2023.
ROC-X can carry electro-optical systems to validate and collect real-time surveillance information. The company says it also plans on placing a 4.4-pound warhead with an impact/proximity fuse on the system to turn it into a kamikaze drone, as the video below shows.
Guy Bar-Lev, IAI’s Executive VP of Systems, Missiles & Space Group, said that the loitering munition will “provide ground-based tactical forces with more precise capabilities to undertake offensive operations, especially against short-lived targets.”
IWTSD’s support and cooperation reconfirm “the importance of tactical missiles to the modern army,” Bar-Lev added.
The loitering munition can fly in both manual and fully automatic flight modes so that operators can fine-tune their course correction right up to the point of impact.
Feature Image: Soldiers from the 20th Special Forces Group, Massachusetts National Guard prepare to raid an objective during training in Cape Cod, June 8, 2018. The highly trained and specialized soldiers are taking part in a combined arms exercise that tests the capabilities of combat support units. (Photo by Spc. Samuel Keenan/Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs)
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