The ongoing war in Ukraine has placed a global spotlight on the value of drones and, in particular, the "loitering munition" subgroup. These Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) patrol the skies in search for ground targets of opportunity. The simplicity of the role, coupled with generally ease-of-operation in design, has allowed smaller global powers to develop indigenous solutions through local means - no longer making loitering munitions a tool of the superpower.
Northrop Grumman has teamed with the UAS experts at AeroVironment to development the man-portable "Jackal" loitering munition concept. Unlike other loitering munitions, typically driven by electric or combustion motors / engines driving propellers, the Jackal is powered by a turbojet engine to achieve excellent performance. The system can, therefore, reach straightline attack speeds of 300 miles-per-hour and has an operational range out to 60 miles, loitering over contested areas for fifteen minutes as it seeks and targets unsuspecting elements below.
The program began development in 2017 under the direction of the Armament Systems Division of Northrop Grumman out of Plymouth, Minnesota. It was unveiled at Special Operations Forces Industry Conference 2022 held in Florida during May 2022.
The aircraft is given a missile-like appearance with a tubular body, rounded nosecone, and twin-finned (outward-canted) tail unit. Mainplanes are affixed at midships and are low-mounted with down-turned tips. An air intake is set ahead of the tailplanes for the air-breathing turbojet unit.
While an attack platform at heart, the Jackal is being developed as a multirole over-battlefield solution through modularity. Beyond its ability to carry a 10 lb war head, the airframe is also able to accept special-mission equipment (such as jammers and sensors) in its place to better cover the traditional Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
Mainplanes capped with winglets, providing improved fuel efficiency and enhanced handling.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Northrop Grumman Jackal production variant)
1 x Turbojet engine of unknown make, model, and thrust output.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Northrop Grumman Jackal production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
10lb explosive impact-detonated warhead integrated into the airframe; can be replaced with special-mission equipment as needed.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
Jackal - Base Series Name.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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