March 29, 2012: The British Army is receiving its first Fire Shadow loitering munitions. Fire Shadow is a 200 kg (440 pound) cruise missile that can stay in the air for up to six hours, while under the control of an operator on the ground, waiting for GPS coordinates of a target. Fire Shadow can operate up to 100 kilometers from its ground controller. It is launched, via a booster rocket, from a mobile launch vehicle or trailer.
This type of weapon has been popular with military planners for decades but never caught on. Two years ago the U.S. Army cancelled its loitering munition, LAM. This was a 55 kg (120 pound) missile that could loiter for about 45 minutes. LAM was displaced by cheaper GPS guided rockets (with a range of 70 kilometers) and artillery shells (40-60 kilometers), as well as missile armed UAVs.
Israel has a loitering munition, called Harop, which is similar to Fire Shadow but was designed mainly to loiter around enemy air defense systems waiting for enemy radars to be turned on, so Harop could attack by becoming a missile. This may be what Fire Shadow ends up as.