The Explosive Pike System: A Booming Future for Smart Rounds
The smart bullet. A concept that went mainstream thanks to the 1988 Hollywood box-office smash hit “Who Framed Roger Rabbit“. Ok, so the cartoon bullets’ personalities may have been a bit over-the-top in the bandolero stereotype department, but the idea is what to focus on. The concept of bullets being able to round corners or follow a moving target seemed impossible; forever relegated to the realm of pixelated imagination…until recently. Enter the Raytheon Pike System.
The brilliant minds at Raytheon, known for both military as well as navigational technology, have been in the works with a new precision-guided 40mm smart round. This ammunition, termed Pike, is guided by a laser system from a spotter enacting accurate target strikes up to 2,300 yards.
RAYTHEON PIKE SYSTEM STEPS UP THE BAR
What sets this bad boy apart? It’s feather-like weight (under 2 lbs.) and ease of integration within already existent handheld firearms. The Pike can be fired from standard tube grenade launchers, such as the H&K M320 or FNH Mk13. No more need for vehicle mounted launch requirements or waiting for delayed air support strikes. While I haven’t been able to find the explosive classification/concussive potential of the Pike, I can only assume it’s similar to the firepower of a current RPG.
According to J.R. Smith, Raytheon’s Advanced Land Warfare Systems director, “Pike uses a digital, semi-active laser seeker to engage both fixed and slow-moving, mid-range targets.” Simply put, one soldier pulls the trigger, as the other guides with a laser system. The Pike system has been in the works for quite some time. Smith provided the caveat of “Pike will become smarter and smarter as we continue to develop its capabilities.” This open-ended evolution leaves me to believe that Raytheon is focusing on reigning in the actual size of the ammunition. If they render the technology to traditional small calibers, they would create the ultimate smart bullet.
PIKE’S POTENTIAL TACTICAL USES
I know they haven’t been making the news as much lately, but take heed modern day pirates. The Pike will bring about the extermination of small boat tactics. As often happens at sea, it’s difficult to breach the hull or make lethal contact with a moving boat; the waves and wind play devastating roles on accuracy. Hence steps forth the Pike! A simple two man group could take out an oncoming small pirate vessel with pin point accuracy and a single shot, from up to 2,300 yards; eliminating the fear of pirates encroaching within an accurate antiquated RPG range.
A second usage of the Pike could be with special ops implementation. Stealth and speed play a key role in successful missions. The Pike will reign down accurate punishment with limited exposure to launch location. According to Raytheon, “Pike’s rocket motor ignites eight to 10 feet after launch and is nearly smokeless for reduced launch signature.” This is huge when it comes to concealment. The antiquated RPG would leave a smoke trail – almost cartoonish – back to the launcher. Now, with the invention of Pike, the launch team’s location is still a mystery in the eyes of the enemy. Although, since the round is 16.8 inches in length, the number carried on person could be limited.
I am curious to see where this round will lead. Not in deployment, but in technological evolution. We already have missile guided systems from airbases and drones. This is the first of its kind retrofitted for small arms deployment. In my opinion, once they make the round even smaller, the Pike will be a sniper’s wet dream. I get it, sharpshooters take pride in rudimentary accuracy, but combine that with a laser guided spotter controlling your round mid-flight? You’ve got a kill-shot, every time – regardless of target movement, windage, or range. Although, I’m pretty sure a RPG round striking your target’s chest, will produce a kill-shot every time as well…
Circling back to quote Smith, the rounds are getting “smarter and smarter.” I wouldn’t be surprised if in a decade we have bullets (in size – not demeanor) similar to the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” bandoleros. I have mixed emotions learning about the advancement of “smart” weapon’s tech. On one hand, I love that it helps ensure the safety and efficiency of our soldier. While on the other, I get paranoid thinking about smart weapons turning omniscient (through implementation of AI) and killing us all. I guess, until then, Happy Hunting!