Russian state-owned arms designer VKO Almaz-Antey has come up with what could be either the smartest idea on the modern battlefield or the dumbest waste of time — and we’re not entirely sure what to make of it ourselves.
With the rise of commercial quadcopter “drones” over the past 10 years, people have increasingly sought novel and unique ways to utilize these miniature flying craft, adding cameras, sensors and even flamethrowers to them.
Now, Almaz-Antey has decided to take things a step further by adding a semiautomatic shotgun to a drone. As with most other Russian military products, the drone itself is quite simply designed, reducing manufacturing and fielding costs, and granting future operators a very shallow learning curve.
The drone uses a wireless link to relay live footage from a forward-facing wide-angle camera to the operator wearing a virtual reality headset. An electric battery provides a maximum of 40 minutes of flight time, though that could be reduced significantly with harder maneuvering and climbing.
For its bite, the drone uses a Vepr-12 shotgun in either its semiautomatic VPO 205-00 or fully-automatic VPO 205-03 variants.
The Vepr-12 is patterned off the classic AK-47 platform, and uses the receiver from the RPK light machine gun. It can feed from a box or a drum magazine, though its ammunition capacity is limited to a 10-round mag to save on the drone’s overall weight.
An onboard stabilizing mechanism dampens the effect of the motion of the drone on the gun when it fires, enhancing accuracy. Given that the layout and platform of the Vepr-12 is highly similar to that of other AK-type guns, it would be easy for the end user to outfit the drone with a rifle instead of the shotgun for more precise shots.
Almaz-Antey originally designed this newfangled flying death machine as a counter to other “unfriendly” drones, using the shotgun to blast them out of the sky.
However, given the amount of creativity you’d expect to find in modern combat zones, it’s all too possible that an over-zealous end user might wind up using this drone to chase around human targets too.
Just how effective this drone might be is really anyone’s guess.