The US Army's new Viper Strike precision munition, supplied by
Northrop Grumman Corporation and dispensed from its Hunter unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV), scored seven direct hits in nine attempts
against targets in demonstrations conducted March 29 and 30.
Targets ranged from compact pickup trucks to multiple rocket and
missile launchers to a countermeasured tank.
Co-sponsored by the Army's Precision Fires Rocket and Missile
Systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Project Offices, the
drops were performed at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. They
were intended to validate the concept of the Viper Strike and
to demonstrate operational capability of the integrated Hunter and
Viper Strike systems.
"Based on a preliminary review of the data, the tests indicate
outstanding success," said Emmitt Gibson, vice president for
Precision Munitions at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems
sector. "The demonstration validates the Viper Strike concept
and provides the Army with an armed UAV with a lethal precision
strike capability." The Viper Strike, which uses a semiactive laser
seeker to find its designated target, has been developed as a
derivative of the Bat submunition during a quick?reaction,
nine-week program at Northrop Grumman's Land Combat Systems
facility at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala.
The weapon is intended for operations that require
top-down attack, particularly in built-up areas where strict rules
of engagement are in force. It requires a "man in the loop"
to lase the target,
either from the ground in sight of the target or from the Hunter's
ground station, which ensures the greatest possible accuracy and
minimizes the chances of collateral damage.
During the initial round of tests, four inert munitions carrying
flight data recorders were dispensed to verify system
performance. For the actual demonstration, nine tactical
munitions fitted with live warheads were deployed against a
recognized set of simulated enemy targets. Seven of the nine
scored direct hits, rendering their targets tactically
The remaining two munitions missed their targets by a few feet
but still inflicted measurable damage. The causes of these
two misses are being analyzed in detail along with the rest of the