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Raytheon Coyote

6 mins
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The Raytheon Coyote is a small, expendable, unmanned aircraft system built by the Raytheon Company, with the capability of operating in autonomous swarms. It is launched from a sonobuoy canister with the wings deploying in early flight phase.
The system can operate up to one hour and is designed for interchangeable payloads. It is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for hurricane tracking, and is being assessed by the United States Air Force and Army as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance asset, as well as for delivering kinetic payloads.

Design and development #

A company named Advanced Ceramic Research of Tucson, Arizona, originally developed the Coyote, Manta and Silver Fox UAS under small business contracts from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. British defense contractor BAE Systems acquired the company in 2009, then sold it back to one of the former owners under the name Sensintel. Raytheon acquired Sensintel in 2015 and folded the company into its Tucson-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense business.
The Coyote first flew in 2007 while still under ACR development, being launched from a Beechcraft C-12 Huron.


The U.S. Army developed the Coyote with a counter unmanned air system (C-UAS) capability to intercept other small UAVs. The Coyote Anti-UAS is 24 in (600 mm) long with a 58.0 in (1,473 mm) wingspan and is launched from a pneumatic box launcher with a maximum speed of 81 mph (130 km/h). It weighs 13 lb (5.9 kg) and delivers a kinetic effect by crashing into enemy drones or exploding near them and dispersing blast fragments from its 4 lb (1.8 kg) warhead. By 2018, the U.S. Marine Corps was deploying a C-UAS that had been in development for two years. The Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Counter-UAS system consists of the RPS-42 S-band radar, the Modi electronic warfare system, visual sensors and the Coyote anti-drone UAV to detect, track and destroy hostile drones. The system can operate out of a forward operating base or from vehicles such as an M-ATV or a pair of MRZR off-road vehicles. In July 2018, Raytheon announced the Army had awarded it a contract to deliver the Coyote for C-UAS missions, with deliveries starting by the end of the year. The Coyote Block 1B is equipped with an RF seeker and proximity warhead and works in conjunction with Raytheon’s Ku band radio frequency system (KuRFS) radar to intercept Class I and II drones; the KuRFS can detect Class I UAS out to 9.9 mi (16 km) and can even detect objects as small as a 9 mm bullet. In June 2019, the Coyote-KRFS radar system, dubbed Howler C-UAS, achieved Initial Operational Capability with the U.S. Army after just 17 months of development.
Raytheon then developed a Block 2 variant equipped with a jet engine, improving speed and loiter time to engage larger and further targets. The Coyote Block 2 features improved sensors and a turbine engine to increase speed to 345 mph (555 km/h). On 17 March 2020, Raytheon was cleared to sell the Coyote Block 2 interceptor as part of the Howler system after entering U.S. military service. Leveraging commercial off-the-shelf components, the interceptor is cheap enough to be used against large drone swarms. Four control fins pop out around the tail to make it maneuverable enough to close in on evading targets. It is fitted with a warhead producing a fragment field of small, fast-moving shrapnel optimized to destroy small drones. Using a rocket booster with a turbine sustainment motor, it can engage threats at a range of more than 15 km (9.3 mi), and can even re-attack if it misses on the first pass.
In November 2022, the U.S. approved the sale of 10 Fixed Site-Low, Slow, Small UAV Integrated Defeat Systems (FS-LIDS) to Qatar in a $1 billion deal. A system includes the AN/TPQ-50 radar and electro-optic cameras to detect and track small UAVs and engages them with EW or interceptors; the sale includes 200 Coyote Block 2s.

Block 3 #

On 28 February 2021, Raytheon received a contract from the U.S. Navy for the Coyote Block 3 to provide an ISR and strike capability when launched from unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Raytheon announced in August 2021 that a demonstration of the Block 3 in an air intercept test had used a non-kinetic warhead to defeat a swarm of 10 drones. This type of payload reduces potential collateral damage and enables the variant to be recovered and reused. The Block 3 Coyote has a more traditional UAV design with wings and an electric motor similar to the original Coyote Block 1, but is bigger in size.

Operational history #

The Coyote is launched from a NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft, and provides NOAA hurricane forecasters with real-time data on atmospheric air pressure, temperature, moisture, wind speed and direction as well as surface temperature. The Coyote collects this essential data at altitudes too low for manned aircraft to safely navigate in the hurricane environment. Its first operational deployment was an investigation of Hurricane Edouard on 16 September 2014.
In December 2023, the U.S. Army disclosed plans to purchase 6,700 Coyote interceptors from 2025-2029 for the Mobile-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System (M-LIDS) and FS-LIDS, as well as associated launch platforms and radars. 6,000 jet-powered radar-guided Coyote Blocks 2s will be procured costing an estimated $100,000 each, while 700 electric motor-driven pusher propeller Block 3s will be bought which uses an unspecified non-kinetic payload (likely an electronic warfare system or high-power directed energy weapon) which enables it to be recovered and refurbished for reuse. The M-LIDS configuration consists of one M-ATV with a turret with electro-optical sensors to spot and track incoming drones and armed with a two-round Coyote launcher and a 30 mm XM914 automatic cannon as well as a mast-mounted Ku-band radar, and a second M-ATV equipped with additional sensors and EW capabilities. The FS-LIDS is a palletized system, with one having a four-round Coyote launcher and sensor array, and the other with a larger and more capable Ku-band radar.

Specifications #

Joe Cione of NOAA with a Coyote
General characteristics

  • Airspeed: 55 knots (102 km/h) cruise, 70 knots (130 km/h) kts dash
  • Deployment altitude: up to 30,000 feet (9,100 m) MSL (in non-icing conditions)
  • Comms range: 50 nautical miles (93 km) (May 2016); 70 nautical miles (130 km) (ground test October 2016)
  • Endurance: 1 hr+ @ cruise (May 2016); 2h (2017)
  • Weight: 13 pounds (5.9 kg)
  • Length: 36 inches (0.91 m)
  • Wingspan: 58 inches (1.5 m)



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