Northrop-Grumman Jackal UAS for Penetrating Defenses

Jackel UAS-LM
Northrop-Grumman’s Jackal UAS/LM

The limited air speed of most current Unmanned Aerial Systems, both ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and Loitering Munitions (LM), have limited capability to respond rapidly to a mission which is at a distance. Northrop-Grumman’s Jackal UAS/LM, part of the company’s exhibit at AUSA (Booth B460) is being developed and is designed to address this.

“Jackal, unlike other drones,” a company spokesperson explained “is equipped with a turbojet engine that allows it to reach air speeds of over 300 mph (482 kmph) with an operational range of over 100 km. A typical mission profile would allow Jackal to be launched toward an area of interest or against a target of opportunity with assurance that it will be able to be on target in minutes. The drone payload capacity of 10 lbs (4.5 kg) can accept a range of mission options including ISR, EW (electronic warfare), or a precision warhead. Its use of a “tube-launcher” allows it to be employed from various ground, naval, or airborne platforms

The internally funded research and development is being conducted in association with AeroVironment. Jackal can be programmed prior to launch using the most appropriate track including low-level waypoint navigation to reduce possibility of detection. Even at its maximum operational range Jackal has fifteen minutes loiter time. It is designed for day or night use and adverse weather operation.

In addition to being able to quickly respond to the need to gain eyes-on a distance are the Jackal’s high-speed and low flight profile makes it ideally suited for penetrating an opponent’s forward defenses to observe and/or attack deeper priority targets. It is feasible in this role for IRS Jackal’s and LM Jackal’s to cooperate in identifying and neutralizing radar, air defenses, and command systems.

Currently, Jackal flight testing and demonstration is proceeding with emphasis on validating command, control and communications.

by Stephen W. Miller