You know how movie trailers often include some variation of the lines “from the makers of” or “from the people who brought you”? Well, the same goes for a crazy new kamikaze drone project — only, in this case, it’s brought to you by the Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov, aka the people who introduced the world to the iconic AK-47 assault rifle.
Kalashnikov’s newest creation, a “high-precision attack unmanned aerial system” called KUB-UAV, was shown off recently at the United Arab Emirates’ International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX). The drone is capable of remaining airborne for up to 30 minutes, during which time it can hit speeds that max out at 80 mph. When it comes time to pull off an attack, it is able to target and accurately kamikaze enemy troops with an explosive payload weighing up to 6.6 pounds.
The KUB-UAV isn’t the world’s first weaponized drone, of course. In the U.S., Florida-based Duke Robotics has developed a drone called Tikad, which boasts a plethora of semiautomatic weapons, in addition to a 40mm grenade launcher. Duke Robotics has already received an initial order from the Israeli Ministry of Defense and is in conversations with other military departments around the world. Other autonomous weapons and killer drones include everything from self-driving subs and warships to the (in)famous Predator drones used for drone strikes. The use of these tools has frequently caused concern, with many calling for the banning of “killer robots” in warfare scenarios.
According to the creators of the KUB-UAV drone, it will simple to operate, highly effective, and cheap. Sergey Chemezov, chairman of Russia’s state-owned Rostec arms manufacturer, which owns a majority stake in Kalashnikov, says that the weapons marks “a step toward a completely new form of combat.”
It’s not yet clear exactly who will be among the KUB-UAV’s earliest customers or its exact price point compared with other comparable smart bombs. One thing that’s for sure, though: If it’s able to have anywhere close to the impact of Kalashnikov’s AK-47 — which has sold around 100 million units since its creation in 1949 — it will be a major player in 21st-century warfare.