Last week in Russia, we caught a rather terrifying glimpse of what the future of drone warfare could look like.
Russsian defense contractor, Almaz-Antey, was recently awarded a patent for their shotgun-wielding drone. Almaz-Antey is a big player in the Russian arms industry. They are responsible for producing, among many armaments, some of the world’s most advanced surface-to-air missile systems.
Key info about this drone
The fixed-wing craft sports a Vepr-12 shotgun along with a 10-round magazine. It weighs 50 pounds (22.6 kg) and has a flight time of 40 minutes. Development of the drone began in 2016 and the craft is controlled by a visor-wearing operator who monitors the drone’s video link as well as sighting system.
Affixing a shotgun rather than a machinegun to the front of the drone was deliberate. Shotgun bullets disperse into tiny pellets making them more effective at hitting moving targets and therefore better for the presumed eventual purpose of shooting people.
The craft takes off and lands vertically from its tail (as seen in the cover image) but levels out and flies horizontally once it’s in the air. This takeoff method means the drone does not require minimal space to be deployed.
The three and a half minute video uploaded to YouTube (below) shows the extremely noisy drone zooming through the skies and blasting targets such as balloons out of the air. From what observe, the unnamed drone does not appear to experience much recoil as it shoots.
What’s it intended for?
This may seem like an obvious question but there’s more to it than you might think. This model is likely to be a proof-of-concept UAV, rather than something the Russians military will immediately deploy. Once they’ve proven that small drones are able to easily fire handheld weapons such as shotguns, it is easy to envision that in a battlefield in the not-too-distant future, gun-totting drones such as this one may be being used to shoot and kill soldiers (or others). A dark thought indeed.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like to read another story we brought you recently from Russia – leaked photos of the country’s autonomous “heavy-strike” drone. You may also wish to read Elon’s Musk’s dire warning about killer drones.
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