Air Weapons: More Small Stuff


October 14, 2014: The predominance of guided bombs since the 1990s has led to the development of smaller and smaller ones. The latest of these is the 30 kg (66 pound) G-Claw. When dropped G-Claw deploys some fins for gliding and guidance (via GPS). G-Claw comes into an already crowded market. The 20 kg (44 pound) Viper Strike has been in use since 2007. It uses GPS or laser guidance. Viper Strike was originally designed as an anti-tank weapon and the warhead contains only 1.8 kg (four pounds) of explosives. But this made it an excellent weapon for fighting in urban areas, as the bomb is very accurate and less likely to cause injury to nearby civilians. Viper Strike is a 914mm (36 inch) long unpowered glider that is 130mm in diameter (with the wings folded). You have to be within a thousand meters of the target before dropping it but that has proved to be no problem.

Like G-Claw Viper Strike was small enough to be dropped from a wide variety of aircraft. Thus the KC-130J transports were equipped with a modified rear door (the Derringer Door) that enables missiles or guided bombs to be fired and the launcher reloaded without first depressurizing the aircraft and lowering the rear ramp.

Initially, the Griffin missile was used in these launch tubes. Griffin weighs 20.5 kg (45 pounds) and has a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead. Griffin has a greater range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire because of pop-out wings that allow it to glide after launch. Griffin uses laser, GPS, and inertial guidance. The Hellfire II missile has been around a lot longer, weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds), carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead, and has a range of 8,000 meters.



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