A group of defense companies — helmed by the St. Louis-based Arnold Defense — are hoping to field laser-guided, 2.75-inch rockets to vehicle-borne troops by mid-2018.
The companies are also looking at the possibility of fielding the laser-guided rocket system, called Fletcher, to dismounted and maritime forces, said Chris Frillman, director of military programs, weapons systems for Arnold Defense.
“It‘s going to be demand driven. The idea is that this is transplantable onto anything,” Frillman said. “The great thing about the rocket system is it’s open on both ends, and, as such, it has very little, if any, recoil.”
That lack of recoil is the reason why the rockets are already in use by helicopters, which are very susceptible to stability issues, Frillman added.
Frillman wouldn’t divulge the specific demand drivers behind the need for the system, but said that Fletcher is being prepared to meet an “urgent operational need.”
”I will tell you, you can go online and find Libyans who have taken the Russian 80 mm [rocket], put it in the back of a pickup truck, and they have this capability,” Frillman said. “What we‘re giving is something that’s proportional, that’s precise.”
Fletcher will be a 6.5 foot, four-round launcher that can relay data between a laser designator and the rocket itself, according to a press release from Arnold Defense. It will be mounted using the Universal Gun Mount, allowing it to be installed on a wide range of vehicles, as well as a dismounted tripod.
The system will weigh 30 pounds unloaded, and up to 130 pounds if loaded with all four rockets, according to the press release. The rockets have a range of up to 5 kilometers.
Fletcher is being designed by a consortium of companies, including the warhead-maker Nammo and the weapons mounting experts at Military Systems Group, Frillman said.