Pyros Small Tactical Munition hits bulls-eye in field testing


August 28, 2012

Raytheon's small tactical munition demonstrates precision targeting and stand-off capability

Raytheon's small tactical munition demonstrates precision targeting and stand-off capability

Image Gallery (7 images)

Raytheon's new Pyros small tactical munition has passed an end-to-end live test with flying colors. The Pyros was dropped from a Cobra unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to demonstrate the glide bomb's semi-active laser and GPS guidance modes, its height-of-burst sensor for standoff detonation above a target, its electronic safe and arm device, and the new five pound NammoTalley multi-effects warhead.

The conditions of the test were intended to closely approximate those which typically occur during current "contingency operations" (read special-ops). The scenario was that insurgents were in the process of planting an improvised explosive device. The Pyros was guided to dead center of the target, and then detonated at a preset height over the target to permanently terminate the threat.

At 13.5 pounds (6.1 kg) in weight, 22 inches (56 cm) in length, and 3.6 inches (9 cm) in diameter, Pyros is the smallest air-launched weapon in the Raytheon portfolio – small enough to be dropped from the U.S. military's common launch tube.

Pyros small tactical munition being mounted on the drop rail of a Cobra UAV

Originally sporting a seven pound (3.2 kg) warhead, Raytheon says the new warhead clips two pounds (0.9 kg) of weight while providing improved blast-fragment characteristics. Costing in the neighborhood of US$35K per unit, Pyros is built for delivery via UAV, but is also well suited for light attack aircraft such as the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B, which could carry dozens of Pyros small tactical munitions (STMs) on missions.

Having a wingspan of 10.2 feet (3.1 m), a length of 9.3 feet (2.8 m), and a takeoff weight over 100 pounds (45 kg), the Raytheon Cobra is about one-third the size of the better known General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and could easily be mistaken for a "giant-scale" radio controlled model airplane, some of which have wingspreads greater than 20 feet (6.1 m) and weigh well over two hundred pounds (91 kg).

In fact, the Cobra's single engine is a Desert Aircraft DA-150 air-cooled, two-cycle, two-cylinder power plant designed for giant-scale model planes that produces 16.5 horsepower from just over nine cubic inches (150 cc) displacement, and weighs eight pounds (3.6 kg). Needless to say, the guidance and communication equipment on the Cobra won't be found at your neighborhood model airplane park.

A Cobra UAV stands ready to deliver the Pyros Small Tactical Munition mounted on its drop rail

"All systems functioned perfectly," said Tom Bussing, vice president of Advanced Missile Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. "This test demonstrated the technical maturity of Pyros, which is designed from the ground up with small, tactical unmanned aircraft systems in mind."

The Raytheon video below shows the weapon's first guided flight test.

Source: Raytheon Missile Systems

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

Hmmmm, not sure how I feel about this.

I see this scene from a not too distant future, two robot buddies having a can of 15W40 in front of their good ol' steam punk plasma TV, watching remnant video files from the past.

They high-manipulator (high-five) every time they find a video showing how back in the day some funny DNA-run entities worked so hard to make all these goodies work so well.


This is a really cool little munition, but $35k per shot?! I'm certain there is some super cool, super high tech electronics packed in that small tube, but $35k?! This one smells a little like an $800 hammer...

Vince Pack

$35,000 for a 5lb bomblet is pure insanity. These defense contractors seem to think destroying us by bleeding our wealth is different from an enemy destroying us in war, our Pentagon needs to grow a pair and demand value for our defense budget ... come to think of it our entire government should start demanding value for dollars spent.

Michael Gene

I guarantee that given 1 year and a couple million bucks, me and 5 of my computer programming friends could produce both the drone and bombs that cost a few thousand each and still uses GPS and laser tracking and operate equally. Unless there's some crazy explosive compound that costs a ton, but I doubt it. Even the height-of-burst sensor can't be all that tough - altimeters don't cost $10,000 and you can use visual aids too. But Raytheon and other groups were probably given $100 million contracts to develop these items, and then charge per piece delivered too!


@firehawk70 well.. do it man. Then come back here and post about it. The tech is out there, and it just takes someone wanting to scoop up the money. Someone here in the willamette valley did pretty much just that with drone aircraft about 10 years ago. Now he has a multimillion dollar company.


Believe it or not this is a small price to pay given the mission the UAV has been on recently. If you think about the goal of hunting down a Terror Leader or Cell etc and the value you get for a successful target acquisition in terms of limiting the enemy depth of destruction its chicken feed. If you blast for hours and hours with traditional artillery or other dumb bombs you still may not hit the target and you have paid the same price in dollars but the human costs are usually hidden. And the significant fuel price reduction and effectiveness because how much longer a drone can fly ah man it all just adds up. Oh you want to do it cheaper, now that is funny. And you do not have to worry about pilots making excuses for not reaching the target which also saves you legal fees to which is a Fog of War reference I brag.

The real problem if you want to know buddy which is what you could be working on is to make the AI work better so that if shit does hit the fan we can have these guys up there and smartly out maneuvering enemy jets and missiles. Any 4th generation aircraft will make mince meat of a drone like this in no time at all or so I have been informed.

Spriscilla the Queen of the Ocean
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