British Army troops stationed in Mali are using mini-drones that can be fired from grenade launchers and are designed to carry a range of payloads.
Developed by Australian firm DefendTex, “several hundred” Drone40s have been handed over to a British Army contingent posted in the West African country as part of Operation Newcombe, Overt Defense reported.
Newcombe is a British Army operation providing logistical support for Operation Barkhane, a French-led regional counter-terrorism effort providing peacekeeping options to the United Nation’s Mali mission.
The decision to buy the drones was made after the Mali-bound British Army troops from the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglian Regiment underwent a rehearsal in the UK in October last year with a range of military equipment, including the Drone40.
Drone40 has a variable length depending upon the payload. Its core length is 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) with a bodyweight of 190 grams (0.42 pounds) and a maximum takeoff weight of 300 grams (0.66 pounds).
The drone can be fired from a 40mm grenade launcher and be hand thrown as well.
Apart from being a handy device, the modular bay of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) allows handlers to fit a payload into the tiny aircraft most suitable to the nature of its mission.
The UAV can be equipped with munitions including counter-drone hard and soft kill options, flashbangs, and chemical smoke along with kinetic options, DefendTex said in a graphic detailing the technology.
Can Perform Kinetic and Non-Kinetic Tasks
Apart from kinetic tasks, Drone40 can also be equipped with a video camera to carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
It’s waterproof and recoverable when used in non-kinetic missions, DefendTex said, adding that when used in large quantities simultaneously it can carry out swarming functions to, for example, overwhelm enemy defenses.
Some of the other notable functions of the UAV include jamming enemy electronic communications and sensors when fitted with optional equipment.
Moreover, the drone can also be fitted with laser designators to mark targets for pin-point strikes with precision guided munitions.
DefendTex said the drone is controlled through a ground control station via encrypted radio data-link and can remain airborne for 30 to 60 minutes with a range of up to 12 miles (19 kilometers).