The Songar unmanned aerial vehicle can protect convoys with up to 200 rounds of machine gun ammunition.
Today is the Army-Navy Game, where our future Army and Navy Officer’s from West Point and Annapolis, meet on the “field of friendly strife.” It saddens me that my fellow members of the Long Grey Line will be placed at risk because the leadership in the Pentagon fails to see the great opportunities and dire vulnerabilities that drone technologies provide.
In 2017, I presented concepts for tactical drones to be implemented for the Battalion/Squadron and Company levels of combat in the U.S. Army. The new dimension of warfare, in a growing “Multi-Domain Battle,” provided by weaponized “unmanned aerial systems” would give commanders and units more assets to engage the enemy and protect U.S. forces.
Integrating American machine guns, far target locators, and other equipment with multi-rotor propelled systems, would create a “high-angle” stationary and mobile platform to observe, block, flank, envelope, and pursue enemy targets. In short, several departments in the Pentagon didn’t appreciate the presentation and valuable opportunity for our men and women in Combat Arms.
Our adversaries, around the World, are now taking advantage of the situation and pursuing such tactical concepts and technologies.
It is well-publicized about the many threats that the Russians and Chinese have developed and continue to improve. Now, Turkey has released weaponized drone platforms to improve its military position in the Middle East and Europe.
Turkey has unveiled the country’s first armed drone, a small tactical unmanned aerial vehicle designed to provide fire support for convoys or defensive positions, day or night, to ranges of up to six miles. The drone is not only armed with cameras but a light machine gun.
The Songar drone is built by Turkish defense contractor Asisguard. According to the company, Songar is designed to, “ increase survival against harassment fire in patrol zones and fortress patrol areas, or in the event of an ambush or threat during the transition of land vehicles and convoys.”
In the video above, four Turkish troops traveling down a dirt road are the victims of an ambush. The Turkish soldiers remove a Songar drone from the back of their vehicle, fire it up, and send it to locate those responsible for the attack. After locating them, the pilot of the Songar sends it in to open fire on the enemy, firing bursts of 5.56-millimeter automatic weapons fire point-blank into their location. The enemy neutralized, the Turks are able to drive safely away.
Songar weighs 55 pounds, has a range of 6.2 miles, and can reach an altitude of 9,200 feet. The drone is equipped with a day/night camera that transmits video in real-time, providing a damage assessment after the drone carries out an attack. The drone uses both the American GPS and Russian GLONASS navigation systems to get around, in case the country operating the drone finds itself locked out of one or the other. The system does not appear to be autonomous, requiring the drone operator or “man in the loop” to make the decision to open fire.
Songar appears to carry a modified assault rifle as armament, with a heavy barrel to prevent overheating during sustained firing. The gun features an automatic stabilized shooting system to stay on target and can traverse up to sixty degrees. The gun in the concept video uses a 30 round magazine, but the drone on the website appears to use a linked feeding system to provide up to 200 rounds. Yet another concept photo of Songar used at New Scientist appears to show the drone with a gun and 40-millimeter single-shot grenade launcher.
The drone is primarily meant as a defensive system, designed to fly above ambushers, locate them, and engage them with small arms fire. Asisguard admits, however, that the drone is heavily armed enough it could be used for offensive missions.