US Army ponders suicide drones for soldiers

The US Army is considering arming soldiers with a shoulder-launched loitering munition, or suicide drone, that can hover for 15 minutes or more beyond line of sight and hit targets as far as 20 kilometers away.

Army Contracting Command posted a request for information on the government website this week seeking industry input into the Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System, or LMAMS. They’re trying to find a low-cost solution for filling an urgent operational requirement, according to the post.

Though it would be a new capability and a higher-level weapon in the hands of squad-level soldiers, it is not a brand new item in the arsenal.

Soldiers have used versions of loitering munitions at training exercises in Germany and they’ve also been deployed operationally in Iraq and Syria.

A squad of Marines could dispatch this system to take out enemy troops or armored vehicles. The eventual LMAMS must include an “all-up-round missile,” basically a missile that’s ready to go out of the box with the warhead, data link, guidance, sensor and launcher in one set.

The only other piece of gear would be the fire control unit that the soldier would use to both guide the missile and view it as they select and destroy a target using full motion video feedback.

The Army wants its soldiers to be able to select predetermined targets but also identify targets while scanning the area, have the drone loiter when needed and abort missions and redirect the device.