Credit: Duke Robotics

The Israeli military is taking drone warfare to a new level with its procurement of small multi-rotor drones that can carry machine guns and other kinds of weapons. A former Israeli Special Forces veteran and another ex-Israeli military friend are making the drones through their Florida startup, Duke Robotics.

Growing frustrated with seeing soldiers and civilians die in crowded street battles, Lt. Col. Raziel “Razi” Atuar told Defense One that small groups of adversaries would use civilians as human shields. To take out these enemy targets, Atuar says a battalion was often sent in and, consequently, people died and got hurt.

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Drones outfitted with machine guns and grenades to take the place of soldiers will save lives and actually make more tactical sense, Atuar believes.

The company’s first product is called TIKAD. As innovative as tricking drones out with guns are, the downside with quadcopters is that they do not hold up too well against the kickback of a high caliber weapon, as Defense One notes:

Aerial drones like quadcopters can often maneuver more easily in small spaces than the tracked ground robots of the sort that the Dallas police used. But physics does not allow the easy integration of a machine gun on a small aerial drone that also has to hover.

When a gun fires, expanding gases eject the bullet from its barrel with great force — and exert an equal and opposite force on whatever is holding the weapon. Newton describes this conservation of momentum — more commonly known as kickback or recoil — in his third law. When a person fires a pistol, the backward momentum is transferred through the shooter’s body into the ground. But a low-mass object hovering in the air, like a quadcopter, has no mount. The physical forces that pushed the bullet out of the barrel are going to act on the drone, more than likely knocking it out of position.

You might be able to rig a pistol to a quadcopter, as illustrated in this video, but the drone will move chaotically with every shot.

TIKAD does have connected mounts that distribute momentum that keeps the drone in place while airborne.

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The Israeli Special Forces took out a target with a Duke Robotics drone, but the complaint was that its 30-pound rifle only allowed it to fly for five minutes.

Atuar knows it has to perform better, and, with time and more tests, it’s likely his company will perfect the physics eventually. I just hope the terrorists won’t learn how to arm their own drones with automatic weapons. Unfortunately, they most likely will.