U.S. Army testing 40mm Grenade-Launched Unmanned Aerial System

Two researchers working for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have come up with a drone design that shoots out of a 40mm grenade launcher. On March 5, the U.S. Army’s patent application for the GLUAS (Grenade-Launched Unmanned Aerial System) was made public for the first time, Troy Carter reports on TechLink.

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The U.S. Army’s conceptual drawing of the GLUAS (Drawing source: U.S. Patent Application 16/120,488)

In the document, inventors Hao Kang and John Gerdes describe a compact, battery-powered UAV that deploys a folding blade propeller and a paraglider wing made of mylar. “Although the teachings disclosed herein can be adapted to any grenade launcher, in some embodiments, the grenade launcher is a 40mm launcher. In some embodiments, the grenade launcher is an M79, M203, or MK-19 launcher,” the document states.

It’s not clear if a prototype has been built, the patent application only includes conceptual drawings, but it also includes specific details indicating maybe it has, like that the GLUAS has a 2-kilometer range, a 2,000-foot operating ceiling, and 30 to 90-minute battery life. The U.S. Army has successfully prototyped a 40mm-launched counter-drone net.

The new patent application also says it’s designed for reconnaissance, i.e., it’s a camera drone and not a loitering munition like the Australian-made DefendTex Drone-40, a bomb-carrying quadcopter also packaged as a 40mm cartridge. “Current UAVs are subject to a highly limiting tradeoff between size and endurance,” the GLUAS patent application states.

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