Northrop Grumman reveals Jackal jet-powered ‘suicide drone’

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has revealed the Jackal, a turbojet-powered loitering munition with a range of more than 100 kilometers. 

The drone is being developed in cooperation with AeroVironment, the manufacturer of the popular Switchblade 300 and 600 drones. 

The drone was revealed at the 2022 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida, on May 16.  

Speaking to Shephard Media, a Northrop Grumman spokesperson explained that Jackal is intended to fill a gap in capability above the Switchblade in terms of size and power.  

The new drone is propelled by a turbojet engine which allows it to reach speeds of more than 483 kilometers per hour (300 miles per hour), Janes reports. According to the report by Janes, the manufacturer’s spokesperson explained that Jackal is designed to loiter for up to 15 minutes after flying to the distance of 100 kilometers.  

It can carry up to 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of payload, which could include a warhead, an electronic warfare (EW) suite, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ESR) equipment. 

Loitering munitions, colloquially known as suicide drones, are often designed to be easy to carry and launch by a soldier close to the frontline. If armed with a warhead, it can then be directed towards the enemy and crash into a target, detonating in the process. 

Recent weapons packages provided by the US to Ukraine included a large number of Switchblade 300 drones and may have also included some of the larger Switchblade 600 with anti-tank warheads. 

Since then, footage has surfaced online alleging to show these drones striking Russian targets. 

Russian military has also employed loitering munitions, notably of ZALA KYB type. Their fragments have been found after attacks on Ukrainian forces, while some have been intercepted and captured.  

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