It might not be an actual devil from Hell, but it is definitely a portent of dark times ahead. An article in Rotor Drone Magazine reported on the “Demon,” an unmanned combat aerial vehicle that can take out squads of soldiers or an armored vehicle with its deadly payload of weapons.
The founder of a Ukrainian drone company recently announced an armed variant of one of his company’s quadcopter models. Yuri Kasyanov posted on Facebook that his company, Matrix UAV, was now offering the ominously named Demon to interested buyers.
Designated as a “shock multi-purpose unmanned aerial vehicle,” the Demon can carry a pair of disposable rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). A hit with an RPG can destroy any vehicle short of a heavy tank.
Alternate payloads for the killer drone include a different grenade launcher, automatic weapons and other small arms, and an 11-pound bomb. If the terrorists responsible for the drone attack in Venezuela had access to this kind of firepower, that country would be short of one president. (Related: ROBO-WARS: DARPA wants to deploy automated drones as coordinated swarms to “isolate an urban objective”.)
In his Facebook post, Kasyanov called the Demon a tool for launching ambushes and accurate attacks on enemy military assets. He cited anti-aircraft emplacements, defensive positions, and even tanks as potential targets for the flying menace. He claimed that it could hit a target as far as six miles out if it was armed with a heavy weapon.
If the user was willing to sacrifice it, the Demon could be loaded with up to 15 pounds of high explosives and sent on a kamikaze attack on targets that are 12 miles away. The resulting explosion would be much more powerful than mere RPGs.
The Demon is powered by a hybrid engine that lets it carry a payload equal to half its empty weight. Kasyanov claimed that the drone’s maximum range was 55 miles, although he did not provide details.
A human operator flies the Demon using real-time video feed. The drone uses a signal transmitter found on other Matrix UAV products such as the Chimera.
Matrix also manufactures the earlier Comandor drone. Fitted with eight rotors compared to the Demon’s four and powered by a gas engine, the Comandor is marketed as a multi-purpose drone. In addition to destroying enemy tanks during firefights, it can also haul much-needed supplies to battlefields and fight actual fires.
The Demon is not the first RPG-armed quadcopter to appear in an Eastern European country and it is certainly not going to be the last of its kind.
In June 2018, Ukraine’s neighbor Belarus made a show of its crude but functioning armed quadcopter. They took a grenade launcher, slapped four rotors and a control system on it, and called it a day.
At the time, the Belarusian machine was dismissed as a ramshackle substitute for highly advanced attack drones, especially the planned Low Power Laser Demonstrator. But it signaled the start of a trend in Eastern Europe, a trend of building flying Frankenstein’s Monsters with a mix of Cold War era weapons, lightweight engines, and remote control systems.
The Belarusian UAV was followed by other models like the Comandor and now the Demon. They are primitive in comparison to the Predators sent after terrorists, but drone technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Ukraine is also still embroiled in hostilities with Russia, another country that likes to use cheap drones in combat.
Visit DroneWatchNews.com to find out more about the Ukrainian “Demon” and other battle drones.