The UK may be producing 3D-printed “suicide” drones that could be used by Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
A secretive programme has reportedly been rapidly developed to explore flight-tested “complex” drones suitable for use in the war-torn nation.
The Warzone reports that it is "obvious" that "3D-printed delta-wing ‘suicide’ drones" and surveillance systems have been "explored" as part of the project.
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It remains to be seen which, if any, parts of the project have been selected for service in the war.
Details of the previously secretive programme have been revealed by UK defence firm QinetiQ, a close colleague of the Ministry of Defence.
The Warzone reports that the project was originally developed by the Future Capability Group, which then became involved with QinetiQ.
QinetiQ has released a statement – which doesn't confirm whether the programme took place – alongside an uncaptioned image showing a small drone, a suggestion that this could be a prototype for the aircraft.
The drone's details also remain unconfirmed.
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Discussing the programme in a tweet, military journalist Gabriele Molinelli said: “UK repeatedly supplied ‘drones’ to Ukraine. We do not, and we might not know for a while, just what is included.
“QinetiQ, which helped make the crash program of tests at Boscombe Down in southwest England possible, mentions a ‘unique 3D printed delta wing ‘suicide’ drone’”.
The secretive programme was designed to “provide recommendations for uncrewed aircraft systems that could be deployed readily by the Ukrainian military”, QinetiQ said.
It is understood to have been part of a wider UK government operation to assess possible weapons and equipment to send to Ukraine called KINDRED.
QinetiQ said that after “a few weeks” it was decided that the programme would be run from the firm’s test site in the southwest of England.
Warzone reports: "Within just three weeks, the QinetiQ-led team was to demonstrate a series of new drones and related technology to senior U.K. Ministry of Defense officials, during a two-day event."
At the time of writing the UK is not known to have delivered any armed drones to Ukraine, although the outlet reports that 2,000 drones have been sent.
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