In certain epochs, the conduct of hostilities was carried out in different ways. So, for example, in the knightly era, the vanguard of the troops consisted of horsemen, then they were supplanted by artillery, and firearms became the reason for the conduct of trench fighting. But modern local conflicts can be called a war of drones - it is they who largely determine the forces of the parties, and the results of their work sometimes become decisive in the further conduct of hostilities. However, the layman may not understand this trend, because most people associate drones only with area reconnaissance. But in fact, they have already made a full-fledged destructive weapon. This is the so-called loitering munition technology.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the loitering munition type are actively gaining popularity among the military today. Unlike other types of combat drones, these have a rather original mechanism of operation. So, after takeoff, they should be able to remain in the air for some time, for example, to search for a target, and then destroy it by making an attack and further self-detonation of ammunition. In fact, loitering drones can be safely called kamikaze drones.
For the sake of fairness, it should be clarified that in flight, a patrolling UAV does not always become the first and last for it. So, if the drone does not find a suitable target, or the defeat of the latter was canceled, then it must be able to return back after launch so that it can be used next time.
Such a set of functions requires a rather complex design from the loitering ammunition, therefore, like a conventional UAV, it is not built. In fact, a drone of this type is a cross between a standard drone and a small rocket.
The popularity of loitering ammunition is explained by the fact that they can be used where it is impossible to use air support from the air or artillery from the ground. In addition, they can in some cases replace guided missiles, such as Javelin, when they are simply too expensive to destroy a specific target.
In recent years, not only the modernization of existing patrolling UAVs has been taking place, but also the creation of fundamentally new ways of using them. So, recently there was an idea to launch missiles from MLRS, which carry on board a number of small patrolling drones. The rocket must reach the target and throw drones into the air - it is they who dive at the intended target and, self-detonating, destroy it.
Since 2016, loitering ammunition has been put into service with a number of armies of the world: Israel, Great Britain, America, China, South Korea, Poland, Iran, Azerbaijan, Germany, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Turkey, Uzbekistan and others. As for the domestic troops, the development of the Russian kamikaze drone was started several years ago, but today there is no exact information about the work in this direction, except for a few mentions of several projects.
Want to know more about drone combat? Then read: Smart weapons: how drones and robots perform on the battlefield