There are drones that fire missiles and then there are ones which are missiles themselves. Called the Kamikaze drones or suicide drones, these are unmanned aircraft that are part of the tranche of weapons that are being sent by the US to Ukraine to assist their fight against Russia.
What are Kamikaze drones?
- Also called Switchblade drones, these are small unmanned aircraft that are packed with explosives that can be flown directly at a tank or a group of troops that are destroyed when it hits the target and explodes.
- The drones have the capability of going past traditional defences to strike its targets and also cost a fraction of what the larger counterparts do.
- People around the world are usually accustomed to images of Hellfire missiles raining down from Predator and Reaper drones to hit terrorist targets in Pakistan or Yemen.
- The small lethal drones are difficult to detect on radar, and they can even be programmed to hit targets without human intervention, based on facial recognition.
- Weighing just five-and-a-half pounds, including its small warhead, the Switchblade can be taken into battle in a backpack and fly up to 7 miles to hit a target. They are called Switchblade because their bladelike wings spring out on launch.
- The Switchblade has a feature that allows the operator to adjust the blast radius. So, it can kill the driver of a vehicle but not a passenger, for example. The weapon can be “waved off” up to two seconds before impact.
- The Switchblade also has cameras that show a target seconds before impact.
Is the US the only country that has such drones?
- Although the Kamikaze might be the most advanced form of this genre of drones, Russia, China, Israel, Iran and Turkey all have some version of it.
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