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Vintage Soviet rocket launchers, paired with cheap modern engines and advances in remote control, are elevating squad-level drones from mere scouts into deadly ambush weapons. Based on an existing quadcopter model, the Ukranian Demon UAV attaches a rocket-propelled grenade to the fuselage, for anti-tank missions. The aircraft is capable of carrying one or two RPGs of the RPG-22/26 family. It can carry the RPG-7 grenade launcher, other small arms, or even a bomb weighing around 11 pounds, Yuriy Kasyanov of Matrix UAV revealed in a Facebook post.
Carrying a reusable weapon like a grenade launcher, the Demon is seen as a tool for ambush and precision strikes on armored vehicles, entrenched positions, anti-air equipment and other targets at a range of up to 6 miles, with a video feed fed to the operator through the kind of signal repeater that Matrix UAV has demonstrated on its Chimera drone.
There’s also a one-way option for the Demon, where it takes a 15-pound payload of explosives and then crashes into a target up to 12 miles away, detonating like a missile.
With a hybrid engine and an explosive payload half the size, Kasyanov projects a range of up to 55 miles for this drone, though that is an extraordinary amount of reach to take without some verification in testing first.
Matrix UAV already boasts the Comandor drone, a gas-powered octocopter marketed as a tool for everything from firefighting to anti-tank weapon platform to battlefield delivery of medical supplies. And the Demon isn’t even the first “quadcopter, but with an RPG” on it that we’ve seen debuted in an Eastern European country this year, according to c4isrnet.com. In June, Belarus showed off a quadcopter where the engines were directly attached to an RPG-26. At the time, it seemed a scaled-down version of other, more expensive rocket-launching drones marketed to advanced militaries.
As drone use is evolving rapidly and Ukraine is already the site of fighting between forces with cheap drones on both sides, this technology is expected to become more sophisticated with time.