Hornet.. A unique versatile RCWS

Combat experience has shown that anti-tank combat capabilities are key for achieving superiority in a highly contested, highly intense battlefield.

The large number of armoured targets and the rhythm of combat operations call for the integration of multiple anti-tank weapons on armoured vehicles, to allow for tank-hunting and collaborative combat capabilities or provide self-defence options in case of an unplanned encounter with enemy assets, and the Hornet Akeron anti-tank system has managed to provide these requirements.

At IDEX 2023, Hornet presented a fully new version of its flagship RCWS equipped with an Akeron missile launcher from MBDA.

For the duration of the show, the Hornet Akeron was fitted with a full system integration on Arquus’ flagship APC, the Fortress.

Components and capabilities

This anti-tank configuration comprises a crew of 5, 5 AKERON missiles by MBDA, 2 firing posts and 1 UAV.

In this configuration, one launcher is fitted on the Fortress Mk2’s Hornet RCWS, while the other one is stored inside the vehicle, ready to disembark for dismounted anti-tank combat.

The team comprises one ATGM squad leader, one driver, one Hornet AKERON gunner dedicated to surveillance and combat from the vehicle, one gunner manning the AKERON firing post and one UAV operator dedicated to gathering intelligence and coordinating BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight) strikes.

The Fortress Mk2 can also load up to 3 extra crew members or 4 extra missiles, depending on the mission or the team loadout.

The Hornet RCWS allows for the integration of many anti-tank weapons in one place and now it offers anti-tank capabilities on top of its native qualities.

The Akeron missile is integrated on the side of the RCWS, which preserves the compact size of the Hornet and contributes to its stealth capabilities.

The Hornet RCWS is very versatile and can accommodate sensors and effectors into one single integrated system.

With its independent ring fitted with a smoke grenade launcher, the Hornet RCWS can provide the vehicle with soft-kill protection capabilities on the battlefield.

In this configuration, the Hornet RCWS hosts two separate Human/Machine Interfaces (HMI), one for the RCWS and one for the MMP, which enables forces to keep full situational awareness and check the surroundings while firing the missile.

To allow for more tactical flexibility and commonality, the Akeron missiles can be fired from the RCWS as well as from a firing station while outside the vehicle.

Cleaning the skies with the Hornet Air Guard

Recent conflicts have demonstrated the increasing importance of drones, whether as offensive vectors or as reconnaissance systems.

To provide a solution to this emerging problem, Hornet launched the Hornet Air Guard, a secondary anti-drone capability to complement its RCWS. This solution ensures the detection and neutralization of drones while maintaining the vehicle’s primary protective capacity.

The Hornet Air Guard adds a Gonio RF (Hydra 300 from Cerbair) and a radar, which are fitted on the Hornet’s independent smoke grenade launcher ring.

Both systems constantly scan the area while the RCWS can still be used normally for observation or combat missions, and upon detection of a hostile drone, the operator is automatically warned of the threat and can validate an RCWS rally with identification via optronics.

The drone can then be neutralized with the automatic 40mm grenade launcher and an air-burst grenade.

The system retains the independent GALIX smoke grenade launcher from Lacroix, effectively protecting the vehicle during combat operations and the Battlenet system coordinates all these functions together.

The detection of hostile drones is done independently and automatically. Thus, there is no need for the operator to be an anti-drone trained specialist.

The Hornet Air Guard has already been integrated into AMG’s HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition, also demonstrated at IDEX 2023.


By: Ikram Bandala (Researcher specializing in military affairs)

Al Jundi

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