Greek startup marries quadcopter and rocket launcher at AUSA

SARISA SRS-1A quadcopter equipped with a rocket launcher displayed at AUSA (Photo by Agnes Helou/ Breaking Defense)

At the Association of the United States Army conference, the Hellenic booth showcased a rare combination of a five-foot-long quadcopter equipped with a rocket launcher, developed by startup Spirit Aeronautical Systems (S.A.S).

The rotary drone SARISA SRS-1A, equipped with an RL275-1S rocket launcher, is being displayed for the first time at a defense expo in the US. Officials from the company have stated that the system is gaining more attention from Ukraine and other countries.

“This is a unique system that is not developed by others. Rockets normally shoot out of the big helicopters like the Apache and Cobra. We give an alternative solution, through the drone saving lives,” S.A.S technology Vice President Fotis Kampiotis told Breaking Defense.

The kinetic thrust of a rocket launcher requires an effective stabilizer to keep the drone balanced while shooting to hit the target.

“Right at the back of the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], there is a system that absorbs much of the kinetic energy produced by the firing, which is an absorbing mechanism we have developed at special absorbing positions in the drone body,” S.A.S technology designer Christos Christou told Breaking Defense.

Successful rocket launching tests were conducted earlier this summer, the officials said. French firm Thales is the provider of the rockets for S.A.S technology.

“It is a high-precision weapon because it can actually hit the target with high precision from a distance of less than one meter or up to kilometres away,” Kampiotis said.

He added that the system can have any communication, stating, “It is radio controlled, within the line of sight, but it can also have SATCOM for extended application,” he said.

Kampiotis said that the quadcopter can’t currently be linked to Link-16, since it hasn’t received the order, but the drone is agnostic for data sharing.

According to company officials, the system is ready for production.

SARISA SRS-1 A can be equipped with one or two launchers of HYDRA 70, 2.75-inch / 70mm diameter rockets. The quadcopter can either be controlled by a large S.A.S-made control station for more demanding operations or by a small off-the-shelf controller.

“We are here to declare our presence in the international market. The American market is very attractive for us, and we’d like to be here. We have received a lot of inquiries from American entities here, military and other companies,” Kampiotis said.

He added that the firm seeks business-to-business opportunities to integrate systems with other companies.

In addition to apparent interest from Ukraine, Kampiotis said the firm “right now [has seen] a strong interest from the Hellenic army.”

Aside from using a rocket, the company said the drone can be used for transportation and logistics in different configurations.

“We’re working with many partners around Europe for the European Defence Fund’s EDF programs, and we are a very flexible company seeking cooperation,” Kampiotis said.

Just behind the quadcopter, the firm was displaying another platform, the AIHMI AHM-1X, a standoff loitering munition that is still under development but the company says could be integrated into the SARISA drone or helicopters.

“It can be dropped like a bomb and glide with a ratio of 15 kilometres without an engine. Now, it has an engine which will give it around 50 extra kilometres, so in total, 60 kilometres before it hits the target,” Christou said.

This loitering munition is still in the testing phase and will be ready for production by the end of 2024.


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