FARNBOROUGH, England -- The U.S. Army will buy Raytheon's Coyote drone by the end of the year to take down enemy drones encroaching on U.S. or partner positions on the battlefield, Raytheon Corp. officials announced Tuesday here at the Farnborough Airshow.
The intent is to use the drone, equipped with a small-blast warhead and a radio frequency seeker at the nose to track and engage targets, at forward operating bases around the world, said Thomas Bussing, Raytheon's advanced missile systems vice president.
"We modified these vehicles to have small warheads to take down a quadcopter, for example, or other types of Class I or Class II [unmanned aerial vehicles]," he said during a media briefing. "It's very modular in nature so you can change what's on the front of the device."
The first drones have completed testing and, once delivery is completed later this year, the Army is expected to use them immediately, officials said.
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Bussing would not disclose how many Coyote Block 1B versions the Army hopes to procure, nor contract specifics, including cost. He also would not speak to the drone's range because of operational security reasons.
The contract also includes Raytheon's KRFS radar.
Officials said the Coyote is an affordable solution as enemy drones pose an increasing threat to ground troops. Raytheon reports the drone hit the target in 11 out of 12 tests conducted with the Army.
Officials are discussing similar sales with the Navy and Marine Corps; however, those services are more interested in the drone's loiter and swarming capability, Bussing said.
The Coyote -- a tube-launched, expendable drone that can be launched from land, ships or aircraft -- has the ability to swarm, but there is a man "always in the loop" controlling the swarm system, he said.
Raytheon officials said the company has tested the swarming capability with the Navy as part of the service's Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, or LOCUST.
"You may have a swarm of UASs engaging another swarm of UASs," Bussing said, where this system would make sense to use.
The Coyote isn't just for counter-UAS. It can be used to track and seek if equipped with high-end sensors, he said. Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses the drone for hurricane tracking and model predictions.
Raytheon has also developed a high-speed Block 2 Coyote drone system, which has a longer loitering time and advanced range, officials said.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.