A new swarming ‘suicide drone,’ also known as a loitering munition system, has been shown by EDGE, an Abu Dhabi-based defense contractor. The Hunter 2-S drones have the potential to fly and execute complex coordinated strikes.
This week, the drones were shown at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference 2022. The drones are modeled on Halcon’s Hunter line of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which EDGE Group builds in the UAE.
According to EDGE CEO Saeed Al Mansoori, drones can coordinate to calculate how many are required for a particular 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.”
These’suicide drones’ are rapidly gaining popularity. This weapon is a hybrid of both a cruise missile and a UAV. It hovers for longer durations above a specified zone, searching for targets to hit. They can also be deployed on longer one-way missions if a target has previously been identified before launch.
In addition to combat operations, loitering munitions can be given general intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations since they are functionally UAVs.
A pop-out V-tail and wings, as well as a four-blade rear pusher rotor, characterize the Hunter 2-S drone. It has a wingspan of just under five feet, a length of around four feet, and a power take-off load of 17 pounds. The drones can attack either static or moving targets with a deployment speed of seconds.
“Designed to ensure a decisive edge in combat, the ground-launched drones fly in formation to perform a coordinated mission that can overwhelm an adversary,” Edge stated in a press release.
Due to the obvious tiny size and modular launching mechanism, Hunter 2-S may be launched from almost any place, such as the rear of a truck or the hull of a tiny ship.
“The company sees AI playing a critical role in the advancement of the defense sector and beyond” and is determined to stay at the forefront of these technologies. The level of autonomy afforded by these swarming drones is a significant achievement for us, and we are committed to fast-tracking R&D investments in these domains to bring related products to market with speed in the areas of autonomous systems and smart munitions,” Al Mansoori said.
Suicide drones are already commonly used throughout the Middle East. The US Army has also tested secret loitering bombs. In addition, the Pentagon has established the basis for each military department to build its own suicide drones.
The debut of the UAE’s latest swarming suicide drone system seems to be a piece of evidence that these weapons are soon becoming highly prized warfighting equipment.