Raytheon (and a few other companies) has put a lot of emphasis on designing ever smaller precision weapons. Taking it down to just about the smallest I’ve seen, they’re developing (on their own dime, btw) what they call Pike.
They’re not shooting precision-guided bullets — yet.
But Raytheon may be the closest yet, with a tiny guided missile a soldier can launch from a rifle-mounted grenade launcher.
Meet the Pike, a 17-inch-long, laser-guided munition that Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is developing on its own dime in hopes the U.S. Army and perhaps other allied armies will buy it.
The Pike and other small guided munitions Raytheon has developed in recent years meet a growing demand for precision, targeted strikes that leave minimal “collateral damage” — death or injury to civilians and property damage — in an era where enemies often hide in crowded areas.
“Nowadays we’re not worried nearly as much, about mass formations of an adversary’s armor,” said J.R. Smith, Raytheon’s director of advanced land-warfare systems. “A lot of it now is insurgents, and they’re in light vehicles or you’ve got people planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
One of the challenges an American infantry platoon faces in combat is that when you get right down to it, the organic firepower of a US platoon isn’t that much better than say, it’s Taliban opponents. Rifles? Check. Machine guns? Check. Grenade launchers? Check. Unguided rockets ? Check. There’s no decisive edge there. Oh, you might have your Javelin with you, and that gives you good overmatch against an enemy machine gun team. But Javelin is very big, bulky and really expensive.
The traditional American answer to this problem is to draw from outside assets. Fire support from company or battalion mortars, supporting artillery batteries, fixed or rotary wing air support. Which, that will always be the way we fight combined arms.
But it sure would be nice if, rather than having to wait for supporting fires, a US platoon could almost instantly use organic assets to achieve fire superiority, ending the fight that much quicker.
We mentioned LTG McMaster the other day, and his role as the Army’s chief innovator. One of his consistent pushes since he was a two star at Ft. Benning was increasing the lethality of the rifle squad and platoon.
Should Pike work as advertised (or even reasonably close to it) that would seem to me a very handy capability to have.
Raytheon’s press release describes it as having a semi-active laser guidance system, and a range of about a mile and a half. At two pounds, a rifle platoon could carry a goodly number of these, limited more by cost than by weight.
It doesn’t look like they actually test fired any yet (or at least, release video of any tests), so let’s look at some other videos of small precision guided weapons.
I’d kinda like to see a shipborne MLRS/SDB variant for suppression of enemy air defenses. Mate a seeker from the AGM-88E AARGM on to the warhead and you’ve have a pretty nifty tool for attacking S-300 air defense systems in the littorals.