Meet the new fleet of kamikaze drones

Famed for its eponymous Kalashnikov rifle, aka, the AK-47, Russia’s most famous gun manufacturer Kalashnikov has been busy with a new project which it unveiled at this year’s IDEX event in February  - its kamikaze drone known as KUB-UAV.

Kalashnikov says the drone — which boasts a payload of 3 kilograms and a flight time of 30 minutes at 80 to 130 kilometres per hour — is also tiny, with dimensions of 1210х950х165 mm, according to the Kalashnikov statement.

According to a report by Engadget, Kalashnikov representatives said it will be faster, more accurate and deliver double the explosive power of makeshift devices built by terrorists, who have strapped explosives to drones available publicly in some operations. Kalashnikov wants to sell the device to 'smaller armies,’ which has given rise to some concern over the implications:

"I think of it as democratizing smart bombs," Nicholas Grossman, a University of Illinois professor of international relations and author of a book called Drones and Terrorism, told the Washington Post, Endgaget reported. "It means disseminating smart bombs more widely. This would shrink the gap between the most advanced militaries and the smaller ones."

The potential for drones to carry out crippling attacks, or even the threat of an attack, has the potential to shut down entire airports, for example, as happened to the UK’s Gatwick Airport in December 2018. Some airports are trying to counter such possible threats by investing in anti-drone systems, such as Israel’s Drone Dome defence system.

Also in February this year, at the Aero India Air Show in Bangalore, Israel Aerospace Industries weapons maker unveiled its Mini-Harpy loitering missile — a kamikaze or suicide drone.

The Mini-Harpy flies over an area until a target is spotted. The drone, which carries an eight-kilogram warhead, is then directed to fly straight into the enemy object, where it explodes on impact.

This type of small kamikaze drone has been identified as a possible weapon Israel could use against Syria’s powerful S-300 air defence system, which Israeli officials have said the military would destroy if it were used against Israeli fighter jets.

According to website Intelligent Aerospace, the Mini Harpy combines the capabilities of the company's two flagship loitering missiles, the Harop and the Harpy, offering detection of broadcast radiation with electro optical capabilities.

“It can be launched from land, marine and helicopter borne platforms, providing complete independence in intelligence collection for an updated situational picture and closing the attack circle at low cost,” IAI said.

Weighing 45 kilograms, the Mini Harpy can remain in the air for approximately two hours and has an operational range of 100 kilometres.

This model is smaller than the Harpy, which carries a 32-kilogram warhead. The Harop, another suicide drone made by IAI, has a 23-kilogram warhead and a range of 1,000 kilometers.

The Mini-Harpy can spot targets using video footage, which it sends back to an operator. Multiple Mini-Harpies can be used in tandem, IAI said.

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