Army chooses Fulcrum Concepts to build combination missile, rocket, and unmanned launcher for helicopters

June 15, 2021
MEL will be able to launch missiles, rockets, and multi-purpose mini-drones called air-launched effects (ALE) from helicopters and light aircraft.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – U.S. Army helicopter aviation experts needed a weapons launcher able to shoot missiles, rockets, and small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensors and explosives. They found their solution from Fulcrum Concepts LLC in Mattaponi, Va.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced a $9.5 million contract to Fulcrum last Thursday to develop, integrate, and test the Modular Effects Launcher (MEL).

The MEL will be for the future Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), a high-speed light scout to replace the retired OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. FARA is under development by Bell Textron in Fort Worth, Texas, and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company in Stratford, Conn.

Related: Army chooses L3Harris for avionics to enable the AH-64E Apache helicopter to control two kinds of UAVs

Both versions of the FARA will carry an MEL, which Fulcrum is developing to launch missiles, rockets, and multi-purpose mini-drones called air-launched effects (ALE), which is in development.

ALE consists of an unmanned aircraft, sensor and weapons payloads, mission system applications, and support equipment. The ALE should be able to identify and attack threats from beyond weapons range of the aircraft hosting the modular effects launcher.

The ALE should be able to deliver kinetic and non-kinetic, lethal and non-lethal mission effects against several different kinds of threats, as well as provide battle damage assessment video.

Related: Lockheed Martin to build Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) for Army helicopters and unmanned aircraft

The intent of ALE is to provide scalable effects to detect, locate, disrupt, decoy, deliver lethal effects against enemy forces. The relatively low-cost ALE will be attritable or optionally recoverable, and uses a modular open systems design for modularity and rapid integration of new technologies.

The modular effects launcher should be able to launch ALE aircraft, as well as rockets and missiles. Fulcrum also builds the GLB-4 Griffin B Block II launcher for helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft. It carriers four Griffin missiles, accommodates several electronics modules, connectors and GPS antennas. The GLB-4 launcher weighs 43 pounds empty.

On the MEL contract, Fulcrum will do the work in Mattaponi, Va., and should be finished by June 2023. For more information contact fulcrum Concepts online at, or the Army Contracting Command-Redstone at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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