Unmanned Vehicles

IDEX 2021: Armenian loitering munitions take a bow

22nd February 2021 - 16:31 GMT | by Leonid Nersisyan in Abu Dhabi

Fixed-wing drone and pentacopter can be armed with high-explosive or high-explosive antitank warheads.

The Armenian defence industry showcased new loitering munitions for the first time during the IDEX 2021 exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

Privately owned company Pride Systems exhibited two models of its own design at the show: a fixed-wing drone with variable-sweep wings and a pentacopter (pictured).

Both compact drones can be equipped with high-explosive or high-explosive antitank warheads; Shephard understands they are ready for serial production.

The drone is built with a tandem aerodynamic design and is launched from a tube using a rocket booster. Its cruising speed is 140km/h, while changing the sweep of the wings enables it to reach 250km/h — it attacks the target in this mode of operation at an angle of 90 degrees, with a deviation of no more than 20cm.

This fixed-wing loitering munition from Pride Systems of Armenia has variable-sweep wings and can be armed with high-explosive or high-explosive antitank warheads. (Photo: Pride Systems)

According to Pride Systems, attacks are made using an autopilot with elements of AI. The system itself recognises the target from the images stored in memory and points the drone at it.

A human operator can reassign the target but if communication is lost with the operator, the UAV itself selects a target for destruction according to priorities laid down in its memory.

The autopilot can create a swarm of four similar drones using an interference-resistant communication channel. In flight, the drones exchange information and can automatically redistribute targets.

The second loitering munition introduced by the company is an attack quadcopter — or more precisely a pentacopter, as it is equipped with a fifth pusher propeller that allows it to reach speeds of up to 130km/h.

This drone is also equipped with an AI-based guidance system, which allows it to recognise and attack targets without operator involvement. The pentacopter is 80cm long and 60cm wide, with a takeoff weight of 5kg and flight endurance of 25min.

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