At AUSA 2016 last October, AeroVironment introduced a Multi-Pack Launcher (MPL) for it’s SWITCHBLADE Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System and it’s BLACKWING tube-launched unmanned aircraft.
The MPL can be employed in Forward Operating Bases and controlled from remote locations, such as bunkers and buildings, to protect system operators from incoming fire. For land forces, the MPL can also be integrated into tactical ground vehicles to provide force protection and ISR on-the-go. The MPL comes in a standard 6-pack configuration weighing 160lbs. fully loaded.
AeroVironment’s design is scalable 2-20 SWITCHBLADE/BLACKWING rounds and enables rapid reload of less than 30 seconds per round. The MPL can be powered via shore and tactical vehicle power, and is also equipped with solar panels and an internal battery pack to ensure uninterrupted operation. Future naval versions of MPL will enable surface ships to launch multiple BLACKWING UAVs rapidly to provide multi-UAV ISR and Cross-Domain Communications, Command and Control.
“Our new Multi-Pack Launcher is compact, modular and rugged to provide fixed and mobile force protection and ISR for our warfighters in frontline operating environments,” Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment Vice President and General Manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment, told Monch. “We designed MPL from the ground-up to address warfighters’ needs, based on our extensive operating and training experience in the field, for easy installation, integration and operation. The MPL’s ability to launch either our SWITCHBLADE rounds or our BLACKWING UAVs provides additional flexibility to our customers to address a growing number of mission requirements in the future.”
The company is evaluating a future naval version of MPL, which will enable surface vessels to launch multiple BLACKWING ISR assets. Developed by AeroVironment as part of a 2013 US Navy/US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)-sponsored Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets (AWESUM) Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) programme, BLACKWING leverages SWITCHBLADE technologies and is primarily designed as a UAS optimised for Anti-Access/Aerial Denial (A2/AD) environments.