Army getting extra funding from multiple sources to accelerate LASSO kamikaze drone program

The Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance program is intended to beef up the Army's arsenal of loitering munitions.
(Getty Images)

The Army is set to receive additional funding that will allow it to accelerate its Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance (LASSO) program, the service’s acquisition chief told reporters Thursday.

The extra money for the loitering munitions — also known as kamikaze drones or one-way attack drones — is coming from the national security supplemental passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last week, as well as the Defense Department’s Replicator initiative, according to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush.

“That was part of our request was additional funding for those munitions as part of answering a European Command [joint urgent operational need]. That’s why it was in there. So yeah, they fully funded that” in the supplemental, Bush told DefenseScoop during a roundtable with reporters at the Pentagon. “That, plus the funding we had ourselves, plus help from our friends at OSD in Replicator … moves us way further down the line to just getting into larger-scale production than we would have been otherwise this year,” he said.

DefenseScoop asked Bush about the total amount of extra funding that the Army is expecting for LASSO.


“I have to be careful because on Replicator, I can’t give specific numbers. But … we’re north of $100 million if you add it all together. And we had done some ourselves. So we had done about 20 [million dollars] of our own internal reprogramming. And then we got Replicator. And we got the 72 [million]. So we’re well north of 100 [million] now when you put it all together. But I don’t want to get ahead of any Replicator announcements on specifics,” he said.

The Army chose AeroVironment’s Switchblade 600 for the first increment of LASSO. However, it doesn’t intend for it to be a winner-take-all program for industry, Bush has said.

Earlier this year, DefenseScoop broke the news that the Switchblade 600 was picked for the first tranche of the secretive Replicator effort. Other types of unmanned systems for the Navy and counter-drone systems for the Marine Corps, were also selected by Defense Department leaders for the first tranche, DefenseScoop recently reported. The Pentagon has been seeking funding approvals from lawmakers to support the initiative, including through reprogramming.

With regard to reprogrammed funding related to Replicator and LASSO, “I can’t say it’s in our bank account yet, but we believe it’s coming. And then we get our supplemental funding. So you know, we’re piecing together a way to go faster than we would have been otherwise, which is great for the Army,” Bush told DefenseScoop at the roundtable.

Unlike traditional munitions, loitering munitions can fly around until they identify a target. And unlike armed unmanned aerial systems that launch missiles, kamikaze drones destroy their target by crashing into it. They can be armed with a warhead to enhance their potency.


LASSO weapons are part of the Army’s vision for a family of low-altitude UAS that are “semi-autonomous (human-in-the-loop) unmanned aerial systems that improves the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) lethality in terms of stand-off and destruction against dismounted formations, armored vehicles, and tanks,” according to budget justification documents.

“Unlike existing direct and indirect fire weapon systems, LASSO’s discreet payload and unique capability delivers Soldiers the ability to abort against targets in a dynamic situation (e.g., use of human shields) or prosecute targets that would have been deemed non-viable in past due to the higher collateral damage associated with alternative munitions,” officials wrote. “The LASSO base capability will be optimized to defeat tanks rapidly and precisely for IBCTs. Follow on increments will support future capabilities for company and below echelons. Future increments will focus on additional range increases, enhanced lethality, and advanced payload options (personnel, hard sites, etc.).”

Looking ahead as part of its regular budget submission, the service is asking lawmakers for an additional $120.6 million to procure LASSO production systems in fiscal 2025, including 54 fire control units, 434 all-up rounds and 144 reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition components.

Meanwhile, the Army has proposed three additional systems for the next tranche of Replicator, Bush told DefenseScoop last month, although he didn’t disclose what they were.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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