Greater Launch Altitude for Viper Strike

Released on Wednesday, June 15, 2005
United States of America
GBU-44/B Viper Strike
GPS - Global Positioning System
kg - kilograms
SAL - Semi-Active Laser
Northrop-Grumman Corporation has integrated a global positioning system (GPS) receiver into its Viper Strike laser-guided precision munition and successfully demonstrated GPS navigation in engineering flight tests.

The addition of GPS navigation is intended to provide highly accurate midcourse guidance, allowing the weapon to be launched from much greater altitude and standoff range than is possible with just the Viper Strike's conventional semi-active laser (SAL) seeker. Once it is integrated with the SAL system, GPS will not only improve the survivability of the host aircraft but will allow it to attack widely separated targets located off its flight path.

During the tests, an unarmed weapon successfully acquired GPS data after dispense from a host aircraft and flew to pre-assigned GPS waypoints. The US Army's Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems project office at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, sponsored the tests, which were conducted by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Following an extended, nearly horizontal midcourse flight, the GPS-enhanced munition will switch over to the semi-active laser seeker once it has entered the target area to detect and track the laser-designated target. GPS-navigated flight tests that include the SAL-guided final approach are planned for later this year.

Viper Strike is an unpowered, aerodynamically stable glider that measures 36 inches (91 cm) in length and weighs 44 pounds (20 kg). It is intended for operations that require a flexible angle of attack (steep or shallow), particularly in mountainous terrain or built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. It requires a "man in the loop" to laser-designate the target, which ensures the greatest possible accuracy and minimizes the likelihood of collateral damage.


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