Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov, maker of the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, has unveiled a tiny drone that’s meant to destroy remote ground targets from a distance of up to 40 miles (64 km) away — by blowing itself up like a suicide bomber.
The “high-precision attack unmanned aerial system” dubbed KUB-UAV in a press release, was revealed earlier this month at the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX), a major defense exhibition in the United Arab Emirates — and it could foretell the terrifying future of warfare.
“This is a very accurate and most effective weapon that is very difficult to fight with using traditional air defense systems,” said Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Kalashnikov’s state-owned parent company Rostec, in the press release as interpreted by Google Translate.
The drone can reach speeds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h) and stay in the air for up to 30 minutes.
The system could give troops on the ground a number of major advantages: the KUB-UAV is almost completely silent, and can carry up to 6.6 pounds (3 kg) of explosives.
The drone will also be sold at a relatively low price. To some, that means a new era of warfare. “I think of it as democratizing smart bombs,” Nicholas Grossman, a professor of international relations at the University of Illinois, told the Washington Post.
Death From Above
The concept is also a big deal because of Kalashnikov’s stature in the world of military weaponry: its iconic AK-47 has been around since 1949 and is still in active use across the world today.
It’s not the first time the idea has cropped up. The Islamic State has been attaching explosives to commercial drones for a number of years now. In one instance, dozens of drones equipped with explosives and GPS attacked Russian troops in Syria last year.
How Kalashnikov’s new suicide drone will fit into the rules of conventional warfare remains unclear.
READ MORE: The Kalashnikov assault rifle changed the world. Now there’s a Kalashnikov kamikaze drone. [Washington Post]
More on drone warfare: New Warfare Drones are Small as a Quadcopter