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DARPA, the United States Pentagon’s research branch, wants to develop a new type of missile. Named Gunslinger, this novel missile will work unlike any other missile. The Gunslinger missile will be designed to carry a firearm capable of firing upon enemy aircraft or troops on the ground. This comes as part of the United States’ plan to increase dependency on robots and unmanned vehicles in order to decrease the number of humans put in dangerous situations during battles or wars. was first to report DARPA’s interest in developing the Gunslinger missile. DARPA mentions the Gunslinger as: “An air launched tactical missile capable of multi-mission support. The system will utilize the high maneuverability of a missile system coupled with a gun system capable of scalable effects and engagement of multiple targets. These mission sets addressed will include counter insurgency (COIN) operations, close air support (CAS), and air to air engagements.”

Most aircraft-fired missiles are either air to air or air to ground missiles, it’s not too common to have a weapon capable of doing both. However, Gunslinger will be capable of targeting both ground and air targets, making it a cost effective weapon. One Gunslinger missile could in theory take out two different enemy aircraft or take down one aircraft and multiple ground targets on the way, such a weapon could heavily increase offensive capabilities and versatility. 

Both the United States Navy and Air Force are looking for a weapon capable of engaging ground and air targets without exposing manned aircraft to hostile threats. The Gunslinger is useful not only because of its capability to target several hostiles, but also because it can do all that without risking a multi million dollar aircraft and the pilot’s life to enemy threats. In the worst case scenario, a Gunslinger missile will be shot down and US forces will only lose one missile, while enemy forces lose at least one intercepting missile. reports that the Gunslinger will also improve US dogfighting capabilities, as the Gunslinger can take down enemy aircraft that are beyond line of sight. This makes it possible for pilots to neutralize enemy aircraft from a safe and comfortable distance that minimizes risk for the pilot and the aircraft.