LONDON - An international team led by Arnold Defense is set to offer special forces and others a vehicle-mounted, laser-guided 2.75 rocket launcher when it debuts a demonstrator system at the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition this week.
The St Louis-based supplier of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, has confirmed it is joining with warhead maker Nammo, vehicle producer Supacat and weapons mounting experts Military Systems Group in pursuing the development effort on a program known as the Fletcher.
Other companies are expected to add their names to the effort, including a rocket maker that will come on board in the development and demonstration phases, an Arnold spokesman said.
Aside from the concept design work on a vehicle-mounted system, the team is also looking at a role with dismounted troop and possible marine and littoral applications.
“Moving into the land environment with our 2.75-inch rocket systems fitted to wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as in a dismounted role, will provide ground forces with an entirely new capability,” said Jim Hager, president and CEO of Arnold Defense. “There is further development work required but if all goes well, we’re expecting to have the system ready for sale towards the end of 2018.”
Arnold Defense is the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers of various sizes and has manufactured more than 1.1 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. military and other allied armed forces.
A demonstrator weapon system will be unveiled, mounted on a Supacat LRV 600 lightweight special forces vehicle when the four-day show opens at the Excel Centre in London Sept 12.
“Working in-concert with world-class designation equipment, Fletcher is a fully integrated weapon system that can engage targets at ranges up to 6.5 km, giving land forces capability that previously required the deployment of air assets,” said Arnold in a statement.
The unguided version of the 2.75 inch rocket has been around for a long time, mainly as an area suppression weapon for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, but the effort by the likes of BAE, Lockheed and Raytheon to add precision guided capability has opened up opportunities to deploy the rocket on land and maritime platforms.
Fletcher will be able to launch with any of the available guided rocket systems, a spokesman for Arnold said.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.