ABU DHABI — Halcon, a subsidiary of UAE’s Edge Group, unveiled a tube-launched swarming drone system known as Hunter 2-S on the first day of the Unmanned Systems Exhibition here.
Hunter 2-S is part of the family of the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles. These drones are expected to share information with each other for tracking and maintaining positions and engaging with the right target.
“Through a certain algorithm, the drones can communicate with each other through [a] main channel, which communicates to all of the drones, giving each of them a certain mission to fly to the target,” Saeed Al Mansoori, Halcon’s chief executive, told Defense News.
Al Mansoori told Defense News the communication channel allow the drones to maintain a certain flight profile, particularly when they divide into a smaller group to hit a target.
The maximum take-off weight for Hunter 2-S is 8 kilograms, or nearly 18 pounds. It has a wingspan of 1.44 meters, or just shy of 5 feet, and length of 1.25 meters. The swarm’s targets may include enemy fighter jets on the tarmac at a military base or an incoming convoy of enemy armored vehicles.
Al Mansoori told Defense News the swarming drones application can fire 36 drones and control them. “They are equipped with [friend or foe identification] systems,” he added.
Each Hunter 2-S tube launcher can carry 21 drones, but Al Mansoori told Defense News the company aims at launching and controlling up to 70 drones, launched from one truck equipped with 3 launchers.
Though no contracts have yet been signed for the swarming drones, Al Mansoori said the company has seen interest from the UAE armed forces.
The company plans the first testing of the complete system in 2023 and production by 2025.
“We had the first demonstration internally this week,” he said. “One drone was launched from the tube, spread its wings, the engine worked and started flying. The first trial was successful but we will develop the flying performance.”
Hunter 2-S uses 3D printed parts, specifically the aerospace qualified thermoplastic material.
Agnes Helou is a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.