Defense Media Network

Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS)

The U.S. Army explores miniature aerial precision munitions at the small unit level

The U.S. Army is requesting industry input for a conceptual loitering precision guided munition, organic at the small unit level, that would allow “unprecedented engagement of enemy combatants without exposing the warfighter to direct enemy fires.”

Dubbed the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS), the possible system would include three major elements:

  1. Operator control unit (providing hardware and/or function such as data link, associated cables, operator interface, and mission preparation and execution functions);
  2. All-up-round munition (including airframe, sensors, integrated guidance warhead, data link, and launcher), and;
  3. Training simulator.

As described in a recently released request for information (RFI), “A notional LMAMS operator control unit is day/night readable, providing the user real time video and control of the munition. The system has the ability to operate autonomously, semi-autonomously, or manually. The operator can select predetermined targets using geo location reference, visually select and identify targets of opportunity, loiter, abort, abort and redirect, arm/disarm, and manually command warhead detonation.”

Switchblade LMAMS

Switchblade on display at a recent defense exposition. The UAS carries an organic warhead weighing .7 pounds and has reportedly been used successfully in combat. Photo by Scott R. Gourley

During the initial mission preparation phase, targeting information would be provided to or by the operator in the form of headings, geo location reference, or landmark information. The information would be provided by direct observers, the operator himself, or sensors in the operator’s network separate from LMAMS.

Once positive identification of the target is obtained, the operator would perform mission preparation with the operator control unit, allowing autonomous flight to the area of interest. LMAMS would be capable of loitering once the fly out phase was accomplished. In the terminal engagement phase, LMAMS would have the ability to automatically track a target designated by the operator or allow the operator to manually control the system as needed to focus on a specific area or point of interest.

The notional LMAMS flight endurance envelope includes a 15-30 minute flight time and 5-10 kilometer range.

The RFI notes that the system “must have lethal effects against personnel and personnel in moving light-duty vehicles, while minimizing collateral damage.”

Envisioned terminal effects include “high probability of lethal effects at 4 meters with extremely low probability of lethal effects at 10 meters against unprotected enemy personnel in the open and in light-duty commercial vehicles both stationary and moving targets.”

“LMAMS must have the ability to automatically lock on and track a stationary or moving target,” the RFI adds. “Once a target is selected by the operator in the terminal phase of an engagement no further operator input shall be required.”

In parallel with the Army’s interest in LMAMS, the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) is also developing supporting component technologies under the Small Organic Precision Munition (SOPM) Program.

Examples of the component technologies under development include:

  • Image Stabilization and Autotracker;
  • Secure Digital Data Link; Power Systems;
  • Small warheads;
  • Laser Height of Burst Sensor, and;
  • Electronic Safe and Arm Device (ESAD).

According to the RFI, the notional LMAMS acquisition approach “will respond to a Capabilities Production Document formal requirement employing a competitive prototype down select decision,” with a competitive down select decision “made in conjunction with a milestone decision review based upon proposal evaluation and fly-off results.”

A technology readiness level of 7 or higher is desired in the FY14-16 timeframe.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-201782">

    Lancer, Sa-25 B Two Iglas mounted on top of each other, in essence.

    The lower launch tube has a rocket engine/steering system in it, the upper another with a seperating kinetic warhead/loitering vehicle/guidence syatem.

    The two tubes can be carried individually, along with the mount and sight.

    The mount contains the firing mech/power system,

    Upon deployment the lower tube is attached to the mount, the top one to the lower and the mount “want pictures” You then shoulder launch the missile, which upon firing, the top fires first and the bottom with a slight delay, via gas. The top half of the missile then slows and the lower slots into it’s rear “via a detaching socket aliging mount” it locks in, and the now long missile goes straight up, telescoping to make it shorter as the solid fuel engine burns out via a spring which pulls it towards the war head section for a better flight or something.

    The engines upon burn out get to about 25,000ft then the attack vehicle seperates attached to a folded up helium balloon and a self inflating gas canister. This then carries the vehicle and three detachable triangulation pods to about 60’000ft attached to a detachable fold out glider wing system.

    The vehicles warhead consists of a 1kg tungsten dart and/or D.U with foward air intakes which act upon a rear propeller and a ball shaped internal air displacement thrust nozzle for steering.

    Upon maximum altitude the balloon detaches and the wings fold out attached to the warhead/targeting pods.

    The projectile then loiters via the glider wings in a large circle steered by moveable wings, can’t remember the term in a predetermined position over the battlefields grid squares determined upon firing, untill it recieves a deployment signal via a radio or something etc.

    The targeting beacons then blow off the warhead and fall to earth the warhead then triangulates it’s position from these and the initial reading as they fall in seperating manner by design to cover a grid square.

    The wings then detach upon the triangulation info being recieved and the projectile falls the air acts upon the propeller via the vents and the ball is moved via vents opening and closing around itn and so steered by the air in relation to the info.

    It then smacks into the target the dart from 60’000 an odd ft with acceleration via the above.

    Or similar, we already have gps 155mm guided shells apparently so use them etc or whatever the point is something you can fire on the ground and call upon when you need it, it will just circle by software etc untill the command is recieved.

    However you do it, it’s worth doing.

    Air sniper.