DefendTex Drone-40 – The Australian UAV That Can Be Fired From a 40mm Grenade Launcher

By | Showcased at this year’s SOFIC (Special Operations Forces Industry Conference)the DefendTex Drone-40 was first seen at the Australian Army’s Innovation Day in 2017. The Drone-40 is literally a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that can be launched from an M320 or similar underbarrel or standalone 40mm infantry grenade launcher, adding a massive capability boost without the attendant weight and bulk of a more traditional tactical UAV.

The Drone-40 was originally developed as a counter-UAV platform with its own radar to enable it to identify and track enemy UAVs to a distance of some 350 meters. Once the enemy UAV is in range, the Drone-40 can employ either ‘soft-kill’ or ‘hard-kill’ options to disable or destroy the enemy platform. This ‘hard-kill’ option, using an airburst munition with a 10 metre area of effect, has been further developed to now offer a loitering munition capability against ground targets in a similar manner as the AeroVironment Switchblade in service with the US Army.

A Coalition Forces member launches a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle near Hajin, Syria, Jan 8, 2019. The Coalition continues to advise, assist, and enable partner forces by providing close air support, artillery and mortar strikes targeting ISIS locations in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. The Coalition and its partners remain united and resolved to destroy ISIS and their violent extremist ideology. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Christian Simmons)

Along with high explosive and armour penetrating payloads, the Drone-40 rounds are available with a camera system making them a contender against the likes of the Black Hornet now being rolled out across the Australian Army. DefendTex also offers the Tempest Fire Support Drone, a truly frightening-looking platform that can carry up to 80 guided rockets and serve as a mobile infantry support platform. The Drone-40 round has been integrated with the Tempest which would serve as a base station for swarms of the Drone-40. DefendTex’s website is sadly lacking in further detail.

The launch of the platform follows the considerable interest shown by the US military in man-portable counter-UAV/counter-UAS technologies. In February of this year, a 40mm round firing a capture net was announced by US Army engineers at the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) based in New Jersey. Known as the Scalable Effects Net Warhead, the round can be fired from a standard M320 or Mk47 grenade launcher and works by ensnaring the enemy drone in a capture net. Along with being a lighter and more compact solution that current ‘drone guns’, the ability to capture the enemy device allows weapons intelligence specialists to forensically exam its origins and construction, important in any future conflict with insurgents or proxy forces.