The United Arab Emirates-made Nimr – Arabic for «Tiger» – armored vehicle could get a major firepower upgrade, under a pact between Raytheon and Abu Dhabi-based Nimr Automotive that would outfit the rugged four-wheeler with Laser-Guided Rockets (LGRs) previously found only on helicopters (Hydra-70) and other aircraft.
The project to arm the Nimr with TALON rockets is the latest in a series of international partnerships that bring Raytheon’s advanced engineering and innovation to U.S. allies worldwide. The deal was announced at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi (IDEX 2015).
«If you look at the world today, the countries we used to sell to, they’re not happy to buy products off the shelf any more», said Steven C. Schultz, director of business development for land warfare systems at Raytheon Missile Systems. «They want to be true partners in terms of co-production, co-development, and in many cases be the prime contractor for some of these international pursuits».
Nimr Automotive is part of a company owned by Tawazun, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) strategic investment firm. Raytheon and Tawazun previously partnered to develop TALON, which is used to modify older, unguided rockets into laser-seeking weapons.
Other recent international collaborations include:
- A partnership with Abu Dhabi Ship Building that provided the United Arab Emirates Navy with the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). RAM is a lightweight, self-guided missile that travels faster than the speed of sound. ESSM is the world’s premier international cooperative missile production program, with 18 industrial partners representing 10 nations.
- An agreement that designated Turkish missile maker Roket Sanavii ve Ticaret A.S. as a supplier for Raytheon’s Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (Patriot GEM-T). The company, also known as Roketsan, is the first major trans-Atlantic supplier for the system and is strategically located to support countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
- A $1.7 billion Direct Commercial Sales contract in Saudi Arabia to upgrade Patriot systems to the latest Configuration-3.
- A partnership with Lockheed Martin to provide the United Arab Emirates with advanced Patriot air and missile defense, along with support and training.
- The U.S. Army’s Warfighter Field Operations Customer Support contract, under which Raytheon trains helicopter pilots in Afghanistan. Students graduate as commercial-level pilots.
Bringing TALON to the Nimr vehicle will meet a critical need, should the UAE Armed Forces adopt the system, Schultz said.
«TALON fills a gap between heavy, expensive, anti-tank guided missiles and unguided rockets», Schultz said. «There are a lot of missions for something like TALON. That’s the niche we’re filling».
TALON Laser-Guided Rocket
The weapon integrates Raytheon’s extensive experience in digital semiactive laser technology and proven history in precision air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions development and production. TALON’s architecture and ease of employment make it a low-cost, highly-precise weapon for missions in urban environments, counterinsurgency and swarming boat defense missions.
TALON is certified for use on U.S. Army Apache helicopters and Apaches in international fleets needing an affordable upgrade to the Hydra-70 rocket.
TALON was codeveloped with the United Arab Emirates.
TALON is fully compatible with existing airborne and ground laser designators.
TALON requires no hardware or software modifications to the launcher or aircraft platform and can be deployed from any aircraft that fires 2.75-inch (70-mm) Hydra-70 unguided rockets using the standard M260/261 launchers.
TALON is a low-cost, semi-active laser guidance and control kit that connects directly to the front of 2.75-inch (70-mm) Hydra-70 unguided rockets currently in U.S. and international inventories