UAE defence company Edge unveils aerial drone swarms to overwhelm enemy targets

Winged UAVs can be sent to strike airfields or enemy convoys, company says

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Swarms of armed aerial drones that can overwhelm enemy ground targets were unveiled by an Emirati defence company on Sunday.

Edge said the aerial fleet could be sent to strike at airfields or armoured convoys, as the Unmanned System Exhibition and Conference (Umex) got under way in Abu Dhabi.

The company's "swarming drones" are based on the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by Halcon, a regional leader in the production of precision-guided weapons.

"Designed to ensure a decisive edge in combat, the ground-launched drones fly in formation to perform a co-ordinated mission that can overwhelm an adversary," Edge said in a news release.

"Leveraging advanced artificial intelligence technology, the tactical drones share information with one another to track and maintain their relative positions, and to effectively engage targets.

"Featuring a maximum take-off weight of 8kg, the swarm of drones are agile and responsive while being directed to their target, which may include enemy fighter jets on the tarmac at a military base, or an incoming convoy of enemy armoured vehicles."

The winged UAVs can be deployed in a matter of seconds and feature a wingspan of 1.44 metres and a length of 1.25m, the company said.

Saeed Al Mansoori, chief executive of Halcon, said: “We see AI playing a critical role in the advancement of the defence sector and beyond, and Edge and Halcon are determined to remain at the cutting-edge of these developments that are shaping our sector and the wider world, from our base in the UAE.

"The level of autonomy afforded by these swarming drones is a significant achievement for us, and we are committed to fast-tracking R&D investments in these domains to bring related products to market with speed in the areas of autonomous systems and smart munitions.”

Earlier, in an opening speech, Mohammed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, said aerial drones have major potential for military and civilian use.

There are major opportunities for commerce, with some countries considering delivery drones for packages.

There would need to be tight regulations and human oversight for any artificial intelligence applications, he said.

"Today, more than ever, we understand the importance of safeguarding our nation by ensuring that these technologies are tools that we can use [and that] other tools can be used against us," Mr Al Bawardi said on Sunday, the first day of the four-day event.

"These systems don't become tired. They don't need breaks and they have no need for sleep. These capabilities are a benefit to officers on the battlefield."

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Updated: February 22, 2022, 10:41 AM
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