back to article US 'Anubis' stealth assassin robo-missile nearly ready

The US military is continuing work on a portable, robotic drone/missile which could be used to kill individual human beings from afar. The weapon, codenamed "Anubis", has now moved into the final stages of development. US soldiers fire a Javelin missile. Credit: US Army The Javelin guided tankbuster is already used as a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Matt K

    Call Tom Sellect and Gene Simmons

    ...this sounds remarkably like the guided bullets from the 1984 film Runaway (written and directed by Michael Crichton). Always worth a laugh to see how well it's aged...

    1. William Boyle


      You stole my post! :-) Really, this article brought that movie to mind immediately. I think I preferred Selleck in the Magnum P.I. series, but it was a pretty decent movie of the genre when it came out (1984).

    2. Anonymous Bastard
      Thumb Up

      I always found...

      Runaway was remarkably well thought out for it's time.

    3. Franklin


      ...closer to the roboassassination missile in the less popular movie Xchange, I think. The Runaway weapon was fired from a pistol, and had very limited range and no loiter capability. The weapon in Xchange could be fired from many miles away and loiter for a day or longer searching for its target.

      Always interesting to see DARPA trying to keep up with sci-fi B movies...

  2. Robert Hill
    Thumb Up


    Somehow, the mere thought that the British Army has been forced to buy a load more Javelin anti-tank missles for fighting the Taleban put a smile to my face...I mean, why fight terrorism fairly?

    1. Steve Evans


      In the absence of artillery/air support it'll deal with a sniper hidden in a mud brick house/compound or tucked up behind some rocks in an equally effective way.

      There's nothing fair about sniping, IEDs or war in general.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I just hope

        that the blues remember this when that weapon is used against them by the reds.

        Personally it should be outlawed now by the Geneva convention as a weapon in the same class as lasers (to destroy sight), landmines and other in that ilk. Why you ask? Because somewhere some tosser will use it on their own populous. War is harsh enough as it is without adding to the misery. AC for obvious reasons.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    ...stick a video camera to the front of it and call it 'The Redeemer'.

  4. Michael Attenborough

    Getting Cultured

    This comes as I'm reading an Iain M Banks book - this looks like the first step to knife missiles...

    1. Nuffnuff

      Knife missiles

      Not sure they'll have a sense of humour though. Unless you like the three stooges with only one punchline. Cue cutting wit, barbed etc etc

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anything that means the US forces have a chance to spot the union flag on their intended target before blowing them into little bits can only be a good thing!

    1. idasben


      But you've still got the fact that the majority of US citizens couldn't point out Britain on a map, so are they likely to know the union jack from a couple of miles up, however big it is?

  6. jonathan keith

    In the future...

    Where's my Knife Missile?

  7. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    What does it do if it gets tired?

    What's the plan if it runs out of loiter? Check for lower-priority targets in the area?

    Paris, because she can loiter practically forever.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Job done.

      This isn't just about retribution, it's also about deterence. If your enemy sniper, mortar team or whatever have to leave the area the minute they see the missile launched then it has effectively neutralised them as a threat and probably saved Allied lives. My suggestion would be to give it two modes - silent, and damn noisy. The noisy option is to make sure the enemy is aware a winged Terminator is hunting them from above and thus scaring the brown stuff out of them. Of course, if you've already spotted them then you go for the silent mode and the kill. It would also be simple to fit a parachute so that, if no threat has been detected by the end of the fifteen minutes, the drone can be flown back to the controller and then descend safely for retrieval, refueling and re-use. If you had two and the means to refuel them (or replace batteries?) then you could fly them in relays for permeanent top cover.

  8. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Anubis Short For....

    ...ANU(s) BI(ghter)S.

    Americans will spend millions if it lets "our boys" take out enemies at low risk. Anybody have an estimate of what these suckers will cost?

    Sit back, have a dubb^H^H^H^Hbeer and twitch your joystick. The Army already offers free video game downloads, ANUBIS simulators would be relatively easy to program, providing a pre-trained corps of missle sniper experts.

    Picture a million PFYs snug in their cellar apartments, logging in to the 2 or three million missles a day launch ready or hanging out on station over the bad guys.

    Of course you still need some grunts or robots to haul in the missles.

    And we better be real friendly with the chinese, since they are the only country that can builds this stuff cheap enough to deploy.

    211 cause it gives the enemy a sporting chance. hmm... there's a movie in there somewhere.

  9. Evil_Medic


    That is all.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    I'll go Runaway and raise you Xchange

    2 mode AP missile homes on (univerisaly carried) identity cards with a backup (solar powered) loitering mode.

    Amusing film about travel by swapping personalities between bodies. Note the spelling to avoid copyright trouble with a certain email supplier.

    People forget that Runaway was Michael Creighton job. His budgets might not always be up to the task, his powers of extrapolation were always pretty solid.

  11. Dave Gregory

    So it's small then?

    "As soon as its target is found, the silent Switchblade plunges out of the sky like a small robotic kamikaze, detonating its small warhead on impact to take out things as small as an individual human."

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Plan B

    Ordinary off-the-shelf cruise missiles are only about $1M/each and work from 1500km away.

    Replace the noisy explosive stuff in the front with a few bricks and you have approx the same level of collateral damage.

    1. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Plan B

      Umm.... conventional $1M cruise missiles (Tomahawk is about $600K) are over 5m long, and weigh 1,500 kg. Even if the warhead were replaced with bricks, it is big enough to crush a small building.

      Plus, Tomahawks can only be launched from ships or subs right now.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Robo-Stealth Ecology

    This is interesting!

    Now then, suppose a manned aircraft were required to do a job.

    I suppose planners would consider what ecology is needed to make the manned flight mission doable.

    Leading to: are we likely to see (or more likely: not see) an ecology for robo-stealths?

    Say a small bomber with fighter escorts?

    Sorta interesting on ecology yes?

  14. Desk Jockey

    Expensive business

    You know, shooting these Taliban chaps is getting frightfully expensive! The round that kills them costs more than what they are paid in a year, including bonuses! Talk about a money spinner for these terrorists! These foolish Westerners paying for their heroin thus funding their salaries, then expending huge amounts of cash killing their soldiers, saving them the redundancy payout and doing the PR recruitment for them! Quite the racket they have going.

    Please tell me these bots will only be used in singles? Imagine just dumping a whole load of them over a village- I mean Taleban camp and watching all those bots go wild and cause indiscriminate carnage.

  15. Brand Hilton


    means "next to last". Not "final".

    1. Nuffnuff


      "Phase III is the penultimate or final stage in most US military tech projects, indicating that Anubis is close to maturity."

      Indicates to me that Lewis was indicating two discrete options rather than defining the first. Or he'd use parentheses or somefink else grammatic like. You'd think.

  16. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Civilian casualties a daily occurrence

    Maybe a weapon that can actually be turned away from hitting the wrong target will lead to improving our reputation(meBritish).

  17. Graham Marsden

    May I be the first to welcome...

    ... BOOM!

  18. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Anubis? Meh...

    Kristanna Loken FTW.

  19. Daniel Garcia 2

    i see

    Now to kill a light armed soldier from an irregular militia you need to hack him with a guided high tech missile. Are those wep producers corporations good selling freezers to Eskimos too?

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    1 shot. 1kill, but boy what a price for the shot

    that is all.

  21. sandman

    How appropriate

    Anubis is an incredibly ancient god, and was the original god of the dead before Osiris "took over" the position. After that point, Anubis was changed to be one of the many sons of Osiris and the psychopomp (conductor of souls) of the underworld.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Also a dog (jackel)

      Lets hope that doesn't apply to this wonderfully over engineered merkin turdnology.

  22. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Target recognition?

    If this is a loitering weapon (unlike a cruise, which hits a geographically static target with high accuracy), what the hell are they using to recognize the target?

    For goodness sake, we can't get facial recognition working for passports in controlled conditions in airports, so how is it going to work in a mobile platform with limited weight and power constraints, for a moving target in a poor environment?

    More likely, it will need some form of marker like a radio beacon to be planted in the car or on the clothes of the target. This will still need someone to get up-close. Either this, or someone staring into a video screen in Florida or Nevada.

    Even things like the current generation of guided smart bombs that can follow targets normally need a beacon or laser illumination (ever wondered why yank infantry keep pointing gun's at a target, even though there's a C130 gunship attacking it [seen clearly in the first Transformers movie, for example]).They're pointing lasers at the target, and the gunship or smart bomb homes into the reflected coherent light.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, a bit concerned

    I'm a time-sensitive fleeting target myself and I don't like the look of this.

  24. Trygve Henriksen

    No, can't see these taking over for real snipers...

    A real sniper has 'loitering capacity' for days...

    (Insertion/extraction can be a real drag, though)

    They can also fire repeatedly...

    And if they're on a good vantage point, they can quickly retarget if a better opportunity shows up in their field of view.

    (These micro-annyances must spend time flying there, but the sniper just needs to shift his aim)

    As these missiles must be remote operated, it means a radio signal that can be detected/jammed.

    (Predators fly so high that they are difficult to jam with off-the-shelf kit. flying these that high would mean spending a lot of time and energy climbing That means larger batteries, more weight, less loiter time, larger missile, easier to spot during final attack)

    They're probably susceptible to turbulent air, too...

    ("But sarge, I aimed it that the second window from the right at the fourth floor, then it suddenly dropped and went through the window on the third floor")

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Made by ACME?

    Needs a big switch on the side for target selection e.g.: Road Runner, Coyote, Taliban Commander etc.

  26. John 62


    The Harkonnens tried something like this, only syringe-sized against Paul Atreides. Bah, Dr Yueh, he may have saved Paul's and the Lady Jessica's lives, but at a terrible cost!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they can kill random people quicker

    "...the silent Switchblade plunges out of the sky like a small robotic kamikaze, detonating its small warhead on impact to take out things as small as an individual human".

    And, because US military intelligence is NEVER WRONG, it will always be the right human being. (Not a wedding party, a passing goatherd, or the Chinese embassy).

  28. Peter Mc Aulay

    Knife missiles

    They sound more like Hunter-Killer drones to me.

  29. Nux Vomica

    This project is already delivering precisely what the originators intended.

    Which is beaucoup bucks for the defence contractors involved, job done!

This topic is closed for new posts.