Hero loitering munition air-launched from helicopter in US Army demo
UVision USA, the US subsidiary of Israel's UVision Air has announced the successful launch of its Hero 120 loitering munition from an airborne helicopter. The capability was demonstrated during the US Army's EDGE 23 event in May at Yuma Proving Ground.
The trial established the system's ability to complete a sensor-to-shooter cycle by launching the Hero 120 from a Bell 412EP and strike a ground target.
Parameters tested included launching from a safe altitude without endangering the helicopter, transferring tactical control between on-board and ground operators, pursuing the munition to a forward location, controlling the system within a 30km range from the helicopter and striking a ground target over a 50km flight.
UVision USA worked with Axxeum on the demonstration, with the latter company designing a mechanical docking system for the single-canister launcher, conducting structural and load analysis, establishing safe flight envelopes, and supplying and operating the helicopter.
Unveiled at Paris Air Show 2019, Hero 120 is fitted with a 4.5kg warhead and designed to carry out accurate strikes against mid-range targets such as vehicles, tanks, concrete fortifications and personnel with minimal collateral damage.
Its mission abort capability allows automatic re-entry into loitering mode, re-engagement of the target, or return to a recovery area using a parachute while securing the warhead.
In June 2021, the USMC announced the Hero-120 had been selected for its Organic Precision Fire Mounted (OPF-M) programme.
The USMC plans to integrate the system with LAV-M (the mortar version of the LAV-25), JLTV and LRUSV vehicles. Alongside the Hero 120, UVision will supply the USMC with its Multi-Canister Launcher (MCL), which has been tailored to the corps' specific requirements.
Shephard Defence Insight estimates the loitering munition has a flyaway unit cost of $150,000 and a gross unit cost of $202,500.
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