Northrop Grumman, a Virginia-based company, specializing in defense and aerospace technologies, is reportedly making an M230 chain gun known as the Sky Viper. Moreover, it is also in the process of developing the so-called "suicide drone," a new loitering munition.

These high-tech defense technologies were created in conjunction with the Future Vertical Lift effort (FVL) of the Army, which aims to produce the most modern aircraft equipment to replace the old helicopters. 

Development of Suicide Drone and Sky Chain Viper Gun

According to a report by The Drive, the information came from the contractor of Northrop. During the media roundtable, which happened on Mar. 10, details about the automatic cannon and suicide drone were revealed.

Besides the new weapons, there are also two big programs on the way.

The first one is the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft or the FLRAA, which is said to be replacing the UH-60 Black Hawk family. The second one is the armed scout helicopter known as the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft or FARA.

Furthermore, the FARA is set to be equipped with a 20mm cannon. This is a part of the Army's plans for their mission in seeking the best aircraft technology. Meanwhile, the Sky Viper, together with the GD XM915 gun, has undergone an evaluation of the DEVCOM AC (Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center).

On the other hand, Northrop said that the suicide drone is part of the ALE program's requirement.

It is said that it is made of the Hero 400 and Hero 120 suicide drone components, which both came from the UVision of Israel. When the two are merged, the product will now be called Hero ALE (Air-Launched Effect).

The two Hero 400 designs, which UVision offered, are aimed at a specific target during combat. They made use of electrically-operated Hero 400EC, which weighs more than 88 lbs. The said equipment is also powered by gasoline.

Read Also: Electromagnetic Drone Defense System Unveiled By UK Defense Firm 

Suicide Drone and Sky Viper Chain Gun Features

Israel is the leading pioneer when it comes to loitering munitions. They are described as small unmanned aircraft that are also incorporated with old-fashioned missiles.

Usually, the equipment uses the man-in-the-loo-type control system, enabling the lookers to view what the drone sees using the onboard sensor for surveillance and blasting capacity. There is also a sensor turret located in the nose where infrared and electro-optical cameras are installed.

Now that defense tech companies are continuously improving their products, the said equipment also comes with high accuracy when aiming at mobile targets. The detected strike can also be stopped at the desired period, like in the case of the target's disappearance.

Using loitering munitions is a safe way to spy on an enemy or a target without human involvement. It benefits from its sensors where the target's particular location can be detected through communication nodes or radars for fast-tracking. This is what the Army wants to achieve, and this is also part of the outline for future ALEs.

On the other hand, Guns Operating Unity deputy director of Northrop, Quinn Canole, said that the 20mm cannon is expected to display an impressive capability that could surpass other Gatling guns.

Besides, Canole stated that they also aim to lighten its load and improve its recoil system regarding the requirements set by FARA. Northrop is also reported to be focusing on chain gun technology because it provides a more accurate focus over other weapon mechanisms.

As per Defense News, Canole further said that the newly-launched gun could come at part with Apache in terms of an improved fire rate.

"To go into a little bit more detail on that, we have performed risk reduction testing on non-firing prototypes. We have physical prototypes, we've been able to function and ensure that all of the subsystems of the weapon are operating the way we intend them to," Canole said. 

In comparison to Gatling gun, they are headed to revamp the accuracy level so only fewer but more accurate shots will be fired at the target.

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Written by Joen Coronel

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