Tiny laser-guided missile fires from rifle, successfully hits targets 2,300 yards away

© raytheon.com
American military personnel can already shoot grenades out of a launcher which attaches to a rifle, but the stakes are being upped by Raytheon, which has developed a tiny laser-guided missile that can hit targets nearly 7,000 feet away.

The new weapon, dubbed the Pike, is only 17 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. At 1.7 pounds, it weighs more than an average grenade, but manages to boast three times the power and is capable of taking out two people located behind a wall, according to Defense Tech.

"Pike uses a digital, semi-active laser seeker to engage both fixed and slow-moving, mid-range targets," said J. R. Smith, Raytheon's Advanced Land Warfare Systems director, in a statement. "This new guided munition can provide the warfighter with precision, extended-range capability never before seen in a hand-held weapon on the battlefield."

During two recent tests in Texas, the Pike munitions traveled more than 2,300 yards (2.1 km) and successfully landed in the target area, Raytheon announced Monday. As noted by the Washington Post, the average grenade travels some 150 yards (0.1 km). Additionally, the company said the Pike is “nearly smokeless” as it travels through the air, making it much more difficult for enemies to detect as it zooms towards them.

One of the Pike’s key features is its semi-active laser seeker, which helps it find and stay on its course. According to Smith, the missile can detect laser heat off of its intended target, and the launcher does not even need to have his or her laser settled on a target before firing the weapon,

“You don’t even have to start by lasing,” he told Military.com. “You can launch it, just as long as you get the laser on it before it hits its apogee and starts coming down. For a long shot like that, you could probably lase 15 seconds after launch.”

Notably, the Pike will be more expensive than a typical rocket-propelled grenade, but Smith said it will be a “tiny fraction of the cost” of current anti-tank weaponry like the Javelin.

“To understand a lot of how we were able to do this, you have to look no farther than your smartphone. The capacity to do computing with very small circuit cards allowed us to basically fit the technology of a seeking missile into this little grenade-sized rocket,” Smith said to Defense Daily.

Raytheon isn’t done working on the Pike, either. Future development is focused on making the weapon capable of firing from small boats, all-terrain vehicles and small unmanned aircraft systems.

While the missile isn’t being built with any hard Army guidelines or specifications in mind, Defense Daily stated that military representatives did watch the recent tests and are interested. Raytheon has been footing the bill for the Pike for the past three years.

“Thus far it has been strictly internal investment anticipating the Army’s need for this capability,” Smith said. “We’ve got some adversaries that have same pretty effective, in not particularly sophisticated weapons. We are trying to provide a capability that outranges and is more accurate that rocket propelled grenades, for instance.”