The USA Marines Want an Super-Portable Kamikaze Drone

This Organic Precision Fires drone could strike targets over 37 miles away.

The U.S. Marines want a flying drone that could both reconnoiter the nearby landscape, complete its mission by exploding dead on target, and is small enough to be carried by an individual Marine. The new Organic Precision Fires drone system would be extremely useful if small units of Marines find themselves cut off from friendly forces and unable to call in for air and artillery support.

After nearly two decades of chasing lightly armed guerrillas with ample air and artillery support on call, the U.S. Marines are gearing up for the possibility of big power warfare. Countries such as Russia and China, with their own navies and air forces, could temporarily cut off Marine units from the F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and field artillery units meant to give them a huge firepower advantage on the battlefield.

Organic Precision Fires, as reported by, would consist of a drone packed in a canister no more than ten inches across and eight feet long. The canister would be light enough to be carried by a single Marine. OPF would launch from the canister and have the ability to hover above for as long as two hours, maintaining a secure datalink to Marines on the ground up to 60 kilometers (37.2 miles) away. A similar drone, known as Switchblade (see main photo above), is operational with U.S. forces but has a much shorter range.

If the Marines find a crucial, time-critical target, they could manouvre the OPF drone into a nose dive, crashing it into the target. The drone would have a warhead capable of engaging “personnel, vehicles and facilities.” The “organic” in Organic Precision Fires means the drone would be issued to regular Marine infantry, not intelligence or artillery units, and thus become an “organic” capability of the infantry.

How could OPF be used in wartime? Imagine a battle scenario in which a Marine Expeditionary Unit has conducted an amphibious assault on enemy territory the Baltic or South China Sea. As the war rages all around the MEU, the two thousand Marines and sailors suddenly find themselves cut off from friendly forces and have to fend for themselves. To make matters even worse, much of the unit artillery firepower is lost during the landing to hostile fire.

Enemy artillery begins to pound the Marines, and without the plus of friendly artillery and Navy and Marine fighter jets the MEU must deal with the problem by itself. An OPF drone is launched, locates the enemy artillery artillery fifteen miles away, and slams into one of the enemy howitzers just as it is about to lob another 152-millimeter shell. The enemy battery located, more OPFs are launched and swarm the enemy guns, silencing them for keeps.

Unknown at this point what kind of size Marine unit could field Organic Precision Fires, but there’s no reason a reinforced platoon of 50 marines couldn’t activate it. The ability to observe and strike targets more than 37 miles away would be a huge step in range and firepower for small infantry units.


Henry Sapiecha

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