Turkish news agency Andolu reported Monday that the military there is to receive 500 swarming kamikaze drones. The tactical Kargu-2 drones – the name comes from an old Turkish word for a watchtower — have a high degree of onboard intelligence, and the forthcoming addition of swarming capability takes them to a new level.
By David Hambling
The Kargu-2, produced by Turkish company STM, is a 15-pound multicopter with a top speed of about 90 mph and an endurance of half an hour. In standard mode it is controlled directly by an operator from up to six miles away; when a target is spotted the drone locks on to it and dives in, destroying it with an explosive charge. The concept is similar to the Switchblade loitering munition used by U.S. Special Forces, although the Kargu-2 has a much bigger warhead.
Kargu-2’s three-pound warhead comes in three varieties, an explosive/fragmentation version for personnel and light vehicles, a thermobaric version to destroy buildings and bunkers and a shaped charge for heavy armor. Unlike Switchblade, which is strictly one use only, Kargu-2 can return safely to the operator for re-use if no target is found.
The drone features LIDAR, daylight camera and infra-red imaging. While it can be controlled directly it is highly autonomous, able to fly a route and use deep learning algorithms to locate, track and identify targets without human assistance.
STM CEO Murat Ikinci told the newspaper Hurriyet that Kargu has facial recognition, suggesting it can seek out specific individuals. It is described as being engineered for ‘anti-terror and asymmetric warfare scenarios.’ (It sounds a lot like the fictional Slaughterbots).
STM also make the ALPAGU, a smaller tube-launched kamikaze fixed-wing drone with many elements in common. Importantly for Turkey, all the technology for Kargu has been developed locally.
This means it has no U.S.-made components that would restrict export under ITAR arms-control rules so it can be exported freely. Turkey is fast becoming leading a player in the military drone market, and Kargu could provide a significant boost.
The Turkish military previously received small batches of Kargu-2, reportedly deployed against insurgents on the Syrian border. The figure of 500 quoted by Andolu is greater than the total of 356 ordered described in previous reports. Kargu-2 is undergoing spiral developments, with upgrades being added continuously. Perhaps the most important one described by Andolu is swarming software. READ MORE HERE