Russia Plans to use ‘Smart Shrapnel’ to Shoot Aerial Drones Out of the Sky

By | Apr 18, 2017 10:58 PM EDT
Big, small problem

Aerial drone swarm. (Photo : USAF)

Russia's latest answer to the immense problem posed by small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) is to shoot these pesky gnats out of the sky wholesale by using "smart shrapnel."

One of the Russian Armed Forces' greatest weaknesses is its ineptitude in anti-drone warfare. The armed forces doesn't have the systems and weapons capable of neutralizing large numbers of SUASs flooding the air above a battlefield. It also lacks the ability to jam aerial drones and is making halting progress in using lasers as anti-drone weapons.

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One of Russia's defense industry firms confirmed the focus on developing a shrapnel anti-drone weapon as part of the armed forces' drive to build a credible defense against SUASs and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Work now focuses on developing "shrapnel ammunition for striking small targets," said Oleg Chizhevsky, vice president of NPO Pribor, a research and industrial association.

"In order to ensure greater effectiveness in anti-drone combat we need to develop (arms) and we are working on it," he noted.

What Russia appears to be looking at is packing the 30 mm and 57 mm rounds commonly in service with the Russian Ground Force with this smart shrapnel, which they also refer to as "brilliant shrapnel." Hundreds of pieces of this smart shrapnel in each round will create a cloud of metal hurtling towards the target aerial drones.

Transforming 30 mm and 57 mm cannons into huge shotguns is primitive, inaccurate and indiscriminate but is stereotypically Russian.

"Firing shrapnel is the most natural way to fight small drones," said Dr. Igor Sutyagin Ph.D, a Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London.

"The new idea is the development of brilliant shrapnel, or smart shrapnel as it is sometimes called, in which you put interceptors close to the target and launch a cloud of millions of these particles. It is tougher to hit a drone with a missile."

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