(Source: www.popularmechanics.com – David Hambling) – When a Hobby Drone Becomes a Military Sniper
There’s a new kind of killer drone. Called TIKAD, it isn’t like any lethal drones you’re seen before. Because unlike the effective-yet-cumbersome MQ-9 Reapers, these multicopters can carry a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher, or a machine gun—the inevitable convergence of hobby drones and military weapons.
Big drones like the Reaper and its predecessor, the Predator, are controlled from thousands of miles away, orbit at five or ten thousand feet, and watch everything happening below. They strike with laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, which are precise but hardly surgical, causing collateral damage and loss of life. Urban combat requires something with more finesse, something that can take out a sniper without destroying a building and doesn’t require an entire team to do it.
Although this new drone, purchased by Israel, could be the first of its kind used in the field, the idea of arming small drones has been around for a few years. Back in 2012, the U.S. Navy experimented with arming quadcopters with shotguns as counter-sniper weapons but eventually halted the project. Meanwhile, the U.S. military fielded the SwitchBlade, a portable, tube-launched kamikaze drone with a small explosive warhead and a range of several miles.
But it’s not just the U.S. military that has been exploring the combat use of consumer drones. ISIS graduated from homemade kamikaze drones in 2015 to swarms of quadcopter bombers in the battle for Mosul this year. These repurposed consumer drones could hit vehicles several hundred feet below with bombs adapted from 40mm grenades and could only be stopped by sophisticated U.S. jammers. (…)
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