AM General and Hornet have unveiled a new HUMVEE Saber concept vehicle in a full drone warfare configuration: the HUMVEE SABER BLADE EDITION, specifically designed for drone warfare. Recent conflicts have demonstrated the increasing importance of drones and loitering munition, whether as offensive vectors or as reconnaissance systems. To offer a highly capable, highly mobile platform to carry these drones safely and efficiently on the battlefield, AM General, in collaboration with Hornet and AeroVironment, has developed the HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition, presented for the first time at AUSA 2022. This new HUMVEE Saber version features AeroVironment’s Switchblade loitering missiles, and a Hornet Air Guard Remote Controlled Weapon System with Counter-UAS solution by Hornet. The loitering munitions on the HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition include the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 that provide rapidly deployable, loitering precision strike missiles for use against non-line-of-sight targets. Switchblade 300 is small and has a quiet motor, making it difficult to detect, recognise, and track even at very close range.
The HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition was designed to operate close to front line battlefields and launch its drones to engage enemy high-value targets such as HQ, tanks and artillery. Modern battlespaces can also be very easily filled by a large variety of small, short-range drones, both armed and non-armed, some of which originate from the civilian market. Combat areas will thus be more and more subjected to threats of detection, acquisition and/or engagement by smaller drones at very short distances. To answer that emerging problem, the HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition is equipped with a Hornet RCWS by Hornet in an Air Guard configuration, which ensures short-range detection and neutralisation of hostile drones around the vehicle. 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 neutralised with the automatic 40mm grenade launcher and an air-burst grenade. Such a feature can also engage and destroy an armed or suicide drone attacking the HUMVEE Saber before it can get too close.
The Hornet Air Guard is a secondary anti-drone capability, first presented in 2022, which complements the Hornet RCWS and its native functions: surveillance, fire, and self-protection thanks to an independent smoke grenade launcher ring. The Hornet Air Guard adds a Gonio RF (Hydra 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. Switchblade 600 missiles are also integrated on the truck. The Switchblade 600 represents the next generation of extended-range loitering missiles and features high precision optics and over 40 minutes of endurance. Switchblade 600 provides unprecedented RSTA (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition) and precision strike capabilities against larger, hardened targets via an anti-armor warhead. The detection of enemy drone presence in the vicinity warns the crew of a possible detection and allows for a swift extraction of the HUMVEE Saber from the danger zone thanks to its superior mobility.
Such an information is vital in current-day operations, with highly efficient counter-battery procedures, where drones have critically reduced decision time as well as inter-arms communication and coordination. In addition to its anti-drone function, the Hornet Air Guard’s radar can also contribute to the surveillance and intelligence gathering in the zone of operations. Thus, there is no need for the operator to be an anti-drone trained specialist. The system retains the independent GALIX smoke grenade launcher of the Hornet RCWS, effectively protecting the vehicle during combat operations. The Battlenet system by Arquus coordinates all these functions together. With its Switchblade loitering missiles and the Hornet Air Guard from Hornet, the HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition brings highly efficient surveillance and aggression capabilities on the battlefield, on and beyond the front lines, while ensuring its own self-protection against close-range air threats in full autonomy. With the HUMVEE Saber Blade Edition, AM General and Hornet present a versatile, coherent solution, adapted to modern warfare, bringing unprecedented tactical and strategic effect.