Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Russian Army to Soon Deploy its first ‘Kamikaze Drones'

Drone Wars

Russian aerial drone shot down by Turkey.

The cash-poor Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is turning to cheap "kamikaze" aerial drones to destroy battlefield targets not worthy of more expensive guided missiles.

One of the aerial drone models currently used by the Russian armed forces will be modified and packed with an explosive warhead. Commanded by remote control, the drone will dive on and blast its target in much the same way as the manned Japanese Kamikaze planes did to the U.S. Navy in World War II. The drone model wasn't identified.

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As for the Russian Kamikaze drones targets, these might include enemy air defenses or tactical battlefield targets selected by the Russian army. One Russian source said the Russian Kamikaze drone will strike "top secret" targets, however. The Russian military said it soon plans to deploy this Kamikaze.

"A drone which would act similar to a fire ship is being developed now. It detonates after hitting a target," said a defense source to TASS, the Russian government's propaganda agency.

Kamikaze drones are cheaper, lighter and harder to detect compared to the larger and heavier conventional aerial drones.

The Russian Army currently has some 800 unarmed aerial drones used mostly for intelligence and reconnaissance missions.

The U.S. Army has its own Kamikaze drone, the AeroVironment Switchblade. This 2.7 kg UAV designed for use by infantry in the U.S. Army and the United States Marine Corps has a range of 10 km can be used for suicide precision strikes at distant targets. The U.S. military refers to Switchblade as the "kamikaze drone."

The recently upgraded Switchblade is small enough to be carried in a soldier's backpack and can be launched from a variety of ground, maritime and air platforms. Once engaged, Switchblade locks onto a target and flies autonomously toward it, exploding on impact. It can also be used for reconnaissance.

The U.S. Army classifies the Switchblade as a missile rather than a drone. It prefers to use the term "loitering munition" to describe it since the weapon isn't recoverable after launch.

U.S. Army commanders reported Switchblade was very effective in Afghanistan as a Kamikaze. Over 4,000 Switchblades were deployed in Afghanistan.

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