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Ukraine’s Homegrown Kamikaze Drones

The Ukrainian Army has acquired a UAV that can target strategic sites in Russian territory. The AQ 400 Scythe drone has a range of 750 km, which is impressive for a mass-produced UAV.

As we have reported many times in the past, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has shown the world how valuable low-cost drones could be in modern warfare. Recently Russia introduced drones into its attack strategy with the Geran kamikaze drones meant to hit Ukrainian infrastructure, and several experts have questioned the absence of a similar weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal. The AQ 400 addresses this gap.

According to Interesting Engineering, the AQ 400 Scythe drones are built by Terminal Autonomy (formerly known as One Way Aerospace). The drones’ name clearly indicates their purpose of not returning to base. The AQ 400 can be launched using short runways or catapults while carrying payloads up to 32 kg and can cruise at speeds of 140 kph- similar to Shahed’s capabilities, but payload capacity can be enhanced further by compromising range.

One of the defense approaches that the AQ 400 can take is to fly at a height of 3,000 meters where countering tools like anti-drone missiles are more expensive for the enemy. Furthermore, it uses a visual positioning system instead of GPS for its terminal dive, making jamming a useless tool against it.

The drone is intended to attack Russian high-value targets like ammunition depots, fuel centers, air defense installations, airfields, and command centers. For this approach to be effective, Ukraine needs the strength of numbers, which is what the AQ 400 is meant to deliver.

Terminal Autonomy claims that it has delivered 50 of these to the Ukrainian Forces and intends to scale up production within the country to hit 100 and even 500 units a month, and hopefully overwhelm Russian aerial defenses with a low-cost kamikaze drone.