16th December 2019
Military drones armed with machine guns
Turkey will become the first country in the world to deploy a drone equipped with a high precision machine gun.
Asisguard, a technology company based in Ankara, Turkey, has announced that shipments of its "Songar" drone will begin later this month. While a number of military forces have already used small flying machines to drop grenades, or fly into targets and detonate explosives, the new Songar model is the first to be equipped with a firearm.
The 25 kg (55 lb) drone will carry 200 rounds of 5.56 x 45 mm NATO class ammo, and be capable of hitting a 15-cm-square (6"-square) target from a distance of 200 m (650 ft) with single shots, 15-bullet bursts or a full auto unloading. Further research and development will soon double that range, according to Asisguard.
To improve its accuracy, the drone uses a combination of sensors and robotic arms. The sensors (i.e. cameras and a laser rangefinder) calculate the distance, angle and wind speed, while the robotic arms help to stabilise the gun as it fires by minimising recoil.
The Songar is controlled by a remote human operator who picks the target by putting cross hairs on it using a screen with up to 10x zoom. It can be flown in groups of three, all firing at a target simultaneously. Night sensors allow for operation in darkness and the drone has a flying range of 10 km (6.2 miles) with a maximum altitude of 2,800 metres (9,200 ft).
The Turkish military could deploy the Songar on its border with Syria, enhancing patrols in the region and helping to protect convoys. However, there is concern that armed groups could replicate the technology and create their own improvised versions. Autonomous drones, for example, could be powerful tools of violence and oppression that might be very difficult to stop. Last year, more than 2,400 researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and others signed a pledge promising not to develop such weapons.