The Raytheon "Silver Fox" Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has been developed as a lower-cost, portable drone solution serving as an alternative to the more complex - and expensive - medium-/large-sized UAVs currently available. The product was originally developed by the Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) concern which was absorbed in 2009 by defense powerhouse BAe Systems for $14.7 million USD. The Unmanned Aircraft Programs division of BAe Systems was then purchased by Sensintel in mid-2013 and, in turn, the company was claimed by Raytheon in January of 2015 - resulting in the Silver Fox product now falling under the Raytheon brand label.
Its portability is such that it can be transported in a standard civilian or military truck (including the HUMVEE high-mobility vehicle) and launched within fifteen minutes by way of a launch rail system. Its operation requires just two personnel for optimal performance. Overall weight of the unit reaches 30 pounds. Its flight path can be pre-programmed by the launch team (via all-modern, user-friendly touchscreen) or operated manually in real-time. The platform's optics set can be stabilized through a traditional pivoting gimbal arrangement or fixed and integral networking allows multiple air vehicles in the series to communicate their results to a single on-the-ground source.
The system's flexibility allows it to be launched and operated from land or sea bases including warships. Data collection is in real-time, offering ground commanders excellent reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities without committing more costly aircraft to the same task.
The configuration of Silver Fox is largely conventional, relying on a shoulder-mounted, straight wing mainplane, rounded fuselage, and traditional single-finned tail unit. The prop is fitted to the nose in the usual way while the optics fit / sensor ball is mounted towards the rear of the fuselage (ventrally). Unlike other small UASs - which are traditionally electrically-driven - the Silver Fox is gasoline-powered. Performance specs include a maximum speed of nearly 60 miles per hour.
Beyond its obvious military value, the Silver Fox is also marketed to various civilian industries including the oil/gas industry, science divisions, disaster relief/assessment agencies, law enforcement agencies, research agencies and so on.
The series has been actively used by elements of the United States Air Force (USAF) in the Afghanistan theater of war, primarily tested in the searching-and-tracking of insurgent ground forces attempting to set up roadside bombs, since mid-2010. The service has utilized a slightly modified version of Silver Fox known as "Silver Fang" with a key change being the introduction of a radio frequency sensor. The Silver Fox has also been deployed (militarily) by the United States in the Philippines to support local government forces in fighting an active Islamic insurgency there.