Australian companies Cyborg Dynamics and Skyborne Technologies have signed a strategic partnership to develop the world’s most capable armed tactical micro-drone, the Cerberus UAV, with DefendTex to provide the armament technology.
Named after the three headed dog that guards access to the underworld in Greek mythology, Cerberus is the lightest, most efficient drone of it’s type in the world, able to provide direct fire support while remaining man portable, providing operators with a tactical edge on today's battlefield.
"We are five times lighter than the nearest re-loadable armed small UAS – the Duke Robotics TIKAD. It comes in at 20-plus kilograms. That unit is not something I would want to carry around as a soldier. The Cerberus GL on the other hand is looking at coming in at around 6kg. If the armament is something the soldier is going to carry anyway, like anM72 LAW, then our platform is only 4kg," said Dr Michael Creagh, Chief Executive Officer of Skyborne Technologies.
Most tactical-level aerial fire support is ‘fire and forget’ (AeroVironment’s $80,000 Switchblade, guided mortars etc), expensive and single-use. To the war fighter, damage assessments are crucial in tight situations to know whether the threat has been neutralised or re-engagement is required.
Cerberus GL has the ability to fire three 40mm grenades, 6 shotgun rounds at an enemy UAV or even a anti-vehicle rocket whilst performing ISR tasks before, during and after its fire mission, then return to the soldier for re-loading and a battery swap. All this in a package under 6 kilograms and with an endurance of over 15 minutes.
Cyborg Dynamics CEO and Army Reserves Infantry Platoon Commander, Stephen Bornstein provided valuable insight from the operator's perspective saying "this UAV can engage light skinned vehicles, enemy UAV's, provide direct fire support, new vantage points to use primary weapon systems and conduct battle damage assessments, and all at man portable size. It is literally the lightest, most capable and most efficient UAV of it's class in the world. We look forward to working with Skyborne to make the Cerberus mission ready."
DefendTex which provides the lightweight, electronically-fired grenade and shotgun armaments for the UAV are based on the famous Metal Storm systems and are "ideal for use on a UAV because they are so simple and light-weight." Electronic ignition removes heavy mechanical reloading mechanisms.
The strategic partnership will allow for the development of new gimbals for optics and fire control as well as enhanced payloads and improved international military engagement. Australia is a potential customer with positive operator feedback, and there has also been interest from US research labs along with a number of allied nations.
As Army sub-contractors working for one of the companies looking at the Wasp SUAS replacement, working on the guidance, navigation and control systems, Dr Creagh said "naturally we are hoping to gain the support of Australian Defence. Skyborne has had interest from overseas already, but given the choice we’d stay and develop Cerberus in Australia to help grow the sovereign aerospace capability."