11th October 2022
Chinese drone carries machine gun-armed robot dog
Kestrel Defence, a Chinese defence contractor, has released footage of a combined drone and robotic system that could be appearing on the battlefield in the near future.
The brief clip seen here, reminiscent of a dystopian sci-fi movie, first appeared on Weibo. This micro-blogging site is China's equivalent of Twitter. A user either affiliated with or representing Kestrel Defence – and verified by Weibo – shared the video.
It's unclear what "Blood-Wing" in the top-right corner refers to, but the drone itself is called Red Wing. According to the description, this small aerial vehicle could travel to a weak point behind the enemy lines and perform a "surprise attack" by deploying the robot dog. In one envisioned scenario, this four-legged machine "can be placed on the roof of the enemy to occupy the commanding heights to suppress firepower."
Mounted on its back is what appears to be a Chinese QBB-97 (designated as Type 95 LGM in the United States). This 5.8 mm light support weapon can fire up to 650 rounds a minute.
No further specifications have been made available, but the drone and robodog pairing seems designed primarily for use in urban environments that are notoriously difficult for human foot soldiers to infiltrate. It could, for example, be used to scout ahead, take out hard-to-access targets or create a diversion. Kestrel Defence explains that ground troops, supported from above, could conduct "a three-dimensional pincer attack on the enemy in the building."
For now, a human operator remotely controls Red Wing and its robotic cargo. But in the more distant future, a fully autonomous version has the potential to be even deadlier: venturing into areas too risky for any human, instantly identifying targets and deciding for itself when to pull the trigger. This would, of course, prompt ethical concerns. In recent years, AI and other technology experts have been calling for a global ban on killer robots. Given the battlefield advantage that such weapons would provide, however, it seems only a matter of time before they become a reality in some form.
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