SOF Week: Northrop Grumman targets US services for the supply of Jackal turbojet loitering munition
Northrop Grumman is seeking potential customers for its Jackal turbojet loitering munition among the US branches. The company plans to conduct demonstrations of the system for the Pentagon, its branches and agencies by early fall.
Speaking to Shephard, Dave Dorman, VP of defence & government relations at Northrop Grumman, pointed out that, to date, the company has conducted three successful flight tests with the system in November 2022 and plans’ to continue to mature it’ in order to demonstrate all of Jackal’s the attributes that are involved with potential requirements of the US service’.
Jackal is a turbojet system that provides a 100km range, and 15 min loiter time. It features an open architecture that provides the capability to support multiple-warhead types as well as EW and ISR packages. The solution also supports a modular 10lb (4.5kg) payload capacity.
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Developed by Northrop Grumman in partnership with AeroVironment, Jackal avionics and mission command functionalities are being designed and matured in the Switchblade 600.
Its turbojet propulsion system creates a transit velocity of at least 400mph and produces 1kW of onboard power to drive modular payloads and EW packages with high power demands.
The engine uses JP10 fuel which should extend the mission endurance of Jackal compared with propeller-driven loitering munitions. The system also provides the ability to navigate via waypoints as well as to network for collaborative engagements.
The US Army is currently working on the definition of requirements for this type of capability. As the Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation has been discussing the possibility of deploying loitering munition in ISR missions, performing reconnaissance and surveillance tasks is another possibility for Northrop Grumman’s system.
‘We could have a Jackal that has a non-lethal payload and one with a lethal payload. So, we are waiting to see what requirements the army rolls out here’, Dorman noted.
From his perspective, there is a growing market for loitering munitions because they can allow for quick deployment and provide commanders with options.
‘They (loitering munitions) are relatively lightweight, lethal mechanisms that we can deploy faster than many other forms of lethal capabilities. Instead of a tank, you could just deploy a light vehicle with several of these loitering munitions and extend ranges,’ Dorman explained.
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