- Russian arms maker Almaz-Antey filed a patten in February 2018 on what looks like a literal flying AK-47 drone.
- It doesn’t make a ton of sense as a weapon or a plane. There’s a few obvious challenges to finding a use for what is basically half AK-47, half model aeroplane.
- But crazy patents get filed all the time, and this may just be one of them.
Kalashnikov’s AK-47 represents a timeless design and an instantly recognisable icon of warfare, but one thing it cannot do is fly.
But Russian arms maker Almaz-Antey filed a patent in February, 2018 on what looks like a literal flying AK-47 drone.
Images filed with the patent show a minimalist drone formed around a Kalashnikov-style rifle, and were first pointed out by aviation writer Steven Trimble on Twitter.
The aircraft has no apparent propulsion, but has two large bulbs that may support propellers. It looks to have large control surfaces built into rear vertical stabilizers and towards the gun’s barrel at the front of the aircraft.
The gun appears a completely standard Kalashnikov rifle, with a standard banana-shaped magazine that extends conspicuously from the bottom of the airframe. The drawings of the drone show absolutely no effort made towards making the gun streamlined or more aerodynamic.
Russia has unveiled a number of unusual drones in recent years, including an underwater drone meant to fight off undersea divers. The underwater drone is armed with an underwater version of a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Additionally Russia has tested unmanned aerial combat vehicles and even “suicide drones.”
But the flying AK-47 drone patent raises more questions than it answers. With forward facing propellers, the drone will likely have to maintain some velocity throughout its flight. Other drones with helicopter-like rotors can fly in place.
Also, an assault rifle basically only works against people or unarmored targets. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Russia would need small flying aircraft to try to shoot people in what would essentially be a flying drive by. To operate such a drone against small targets, the aircraft would have to handle the blowback from shots fired and have a way to find, track and fire at moving targets. And unless the drone has some hidden capacity to change magazines in flight, each drone gun likely wouldn’t hold more than 30 rounds.
Defence contractors routinely file patents for a variety of innovations and don’t always follow through with them, so it’s unclear if we’ll ever see this strange bird fly.
But if you were thinking of building for commercial purposes a small drone to fly a Kalashnikov around and not do much else, then don’t. There’s a patent on that.
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