Australia will soon hand over 300 DefendTex D40 kamikaze drones to Ukraine. The DefendTex D40 is an aerial weapon system category in which the munition loiters (waits passively) around the target area for some time and attacks only once a target is located. Kamikaze drone enable faster reaction times against concealed or hidden targets that emerge for short periods without placing high-value platforms close to the target area, and also allow more selective targeting as the attack can easily be aborted. The autonomy is there, in a sense, to pass off the task of flying a drone into position and only task the operator with making a call once the drone is in place. The DefendTex D40 is designed to destroy tanks, manpower and ammunition depots.
The DefendTex D40 can be launched both manually and with a 40-mm grenade launcher. These diminutive quad-copter-type drones can be fitted with various payloads, ranging from full-motion electro-optical video cameras to small high-explosive or armor-piercing warheads. The maximum flight range is 20 km, and the takeoff weight of the entire ammunition is 300 g. The line-of-sight restrictions exist for the command links between the operator and the drones, but it may be possible to use another drone to work as a relay. DefendTex’s barraging ammunition can operate either individually or as part of a swarm. The payload can be readily swapped in the field and that when fitted with the cameras, the drones can be recovered and reused.
The DefendTex D40 can operate together as at least semi-autonomous swarms after launch. They also offer was it described as multiple round simultaneous impact (MSRI) capabilities. This is useful because many more munitions can land on the target with no warning. What this means is that a single individual could fire multiple Drone40s with kinetic payloads and then they could be directed to fly to a designated point, after which they would all drop at the same time. With a mix of different warhead types, this could allow for more effective engagement of complex and dispersed targets all at once, such as troops standing in the open near light armored vehicles. It has a flight time of 30-60 minutes for barraging ammunition.
The DefendTex D40 produced by Melbourne-based defense technology firm DefendTex. The unit’s development was largely funded in collaboration with Autonomous Systems Collaborative Research by the Australian government. Defence think tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) reported that Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko said that Ukraine had been searching for combat drone useful in its battle against Russian invaders among Australian defence suppliers. Test units have already been delivered to Poland, where they will be tested. After the tests, Australia will send the entire batch of munitions to Ukraine. It boasts a ‘low cost per unit’, flies autonomously and has been purchased by the United Kingdom and tested by the United States.