Norway-based GRIFF Aviation is known for its heavy-lift drones. And now, as a result of a partnership with Norwegian armaments manufacturer NAMMO, the company is debuting a heavy lift drone that can dispatch anti-tank missiles.
GRIFF Aviation has been on our radar for several years now. The company was one of the first to build a heavy-lift drone that could be used for everything from deliveries to hauling construction supplies to the top of a building. They appear to be robust, well-built products – and their price reflects that. Now, the company is showing off something entirely new. A heavy-lift drone armed with two rocket launchers.
The GRIFF 135 has a payload capacity of 30 kg (66 pounds). It can stay in the air for 30 minutes.
And now, with a development the company is calling “A Game Changer” – it can do more. It all started with a strategic partnership with another Norwegian company:
We’re excited to share the news that NAMMO and GRIFF Aviation are entering into a partnership. The goal of this collaboration is to develop a launch mechanism on the GRIFF platform, making the GRIFF UAV into an Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicle (UCAV) using the M72 EC Mk1.GRIFF Aviation
That M72 EC Mk1 referred to above is usually a handheld rocket launcher. Weighing 3.4kg, it fires a 66mm caliber rocket with a muzzle velocity of 200m/s. The GRIFF 135 drone has two of these single-use devices mounted.
“With several M72 mounted on a drone, users can bring the weapons to a target in a way not previously possible,” says a piece of GRIFF literature. “This opens up both a ‘top attack’ option against more heavily armoured targets, including main battle tanks, while at the same time removing operators from the danger zone.”
Let’s take a look
Before we get into a quick interview with GRIFF, let’s take a look at this device.
GRIFF sees potential
We sat down at the CANSEC conference in Ottawa with GRIFF Aviation’s Geir Furø, VP of Sales and Business Development. The show is Canada’s largest defense and security tradeshow.
“We try to keep a low profile,” says Furø. “This is the first time we’ve shown it publicly.”
The project marks a significant departure for GRIFF Aviation from its roots. But the company, now partnered with NAMMO, sees opportunities for this kind of weaponized drone for Western defense clients. It also stressed this project wasn’t sparked by recent global events.
“This is not something we came up with because of Ukraine,” he says. “It’s been in the planning for the last four or five years. Only in the last year has it been coming together. So this will have a live-fire test later this fall. We hope to be manufacturing by early next year.”
The M72 rockets are suitable for armoured vehicles, personnel, lightly fortified structures and more. Here’s a closer look, including firing instructions:
“Were not going to compete with helicopters,” says Furø, “but there’s a small segment we can compete with. We had interest already from several nations, including Canada.” GRIFF Aviation products are distributed in North America by Ottawa-based Robotics Centre.
It’s not surprising to see a weaponized drone at a defense and security show. It’s also clear there’s a market for this kind of product (as GRIFF has already discovered at this show).
What it does make us ponder is whether other companies in the ever-growing Enterprise drone sphere will follow suit. We suspect the answer is yes – with some likely already scrambling behind the scenes, given Ukraine’s tremendous demand for drones that can be used not only for situational awareness – but for offensive purposes.