UAE defense contractor unveils autonomous ‘suicide drone’ swarm system

Drones can autonomously attack static or moving targets

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

February 23, 2022

2 Min Read

Drones can autonomously attack static or moving targets

Military contractor Edge Group has introduced a ‘suicide drone’ swarm system designed to autonomously attach to targets.

Edge, a state enterprise of the United Arab Emirates, unveiled the loitering munitions system at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference (UMEX) 2022.

“We see AI playing a critical role in the advancement of the defense sector and beyond,” said Saeed Al Mansoori, CEO of Edge’s Halcon, which developed the drones, in a statement.

The system houses Hunter 2-S drones that can communicate amongst themselves to determine how many are needed for a specific target.

“Once the target is identified, a decision is made among the swarm, and based on the target size, shape, and category, they decide how many drones are needed to destroy the target, like two or four or five, and then they start diving towards it,” he told Breaking Defense

The individual Edge drones house a sensor suite located just under its nose that can select static or moving targets for attacks but can also be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

A modular housing launcher launches the drones, which each have a wingspan of 1.44m, a length of 1.25 and a maximum take-off weight of just over 17 pounds.

Russia’s ‘kamikaze’ drones

‘Suicide drones,’ officially titled loitering munitions, are designed to linger in designated areas while searching for targets autonomously.

Loitering munitions are nothing new, first emerging in the 1980s as deterrents against surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). As levels of autonomy have grown, such systems have become more sophisticated.

Nations known to employ such systems include South Korea and its ‘devil killer’ drones, Israel, China, the U.S. and India.

Notably, Russia, which is poised to potentially invade Ukraine, boasts the KUB-BLA drone. Developed by Kalashnikov Group, the same company that produces Russia's iconic assault rifles, the drone is designed to destroy remote ground targets.

“An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a special load to the coordinates of the target, which are set manually or in the image from the drone's guidance system,” a Kalashnikov statement reads.

Russia has already deployed drones in Syria, reportedly targeting militants in Idlib with suicide drones last October, according to Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Last November, the Russian Ministry of Defense reportedly would be fitting naval vessels with “Kamikaze drones” to strike ground targets, enemy ships and aid special forces soldiers performing “secret missions.”

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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