The British Army has unveiled a jet-powered drone capable of firing laser-guided missiles.
Called the Hydra 400, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept was introduced at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London.
According to the service, the state-of-the-art vehicle can carry three Brimstone missiles, guided by millimetric wave radar and semi-active laser.
The drone is also powered by single spool jet turbines producing 500N (50 kilograms) of thrust and providing a maximum lift capacity of 400 kilograms (882 pounds).
One of the most advantageous features of the drone is its ability to be transported in the back of a Hilux vehicle or be assembled for flight in under six minutes.
With its compactness and portability, the system is expected to support long-range combat and reconnaissance missions.
Inspired by Ukraine War
The move to develop a jet-powered drone that can fire Brimstone missiles is inspired by the operating environment observed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The air-launched ground attack missile is being used by Kyiv to destroy Russian tanks and other armored vehicles.
Weighing 50 kilograms (110 pounds), the Brimstone reportedly has an “over 98 percent success rate” in defeating static, moving, and maneuvering targets.
“We are responding to the operating environment that we see in Ukraine,” British Army Chief of the General Staff Patrick Sanders said.
“When the electro-magnetic spectrum is so heavily contested, automation fails, and the skill of the pilot predominates. We need ‘war fighters’ – whether they are cyber specialists, drone pilots, or infantry soldiers – to be stronger, faster, more intelligent and more resilient.”
The Hydra 400 also integrates artificial intelligence for improved surveillance and multi-mission capability, making it a “fully automated end-to-end decision support weapon system.”