TechUkraine conflict drives shotgun innovation in antidrone warfare

Ukraine conflict drives shotgun innovation in antidrone warfare

Benelli M4 shotgun - illustrative photo
Benelli M4 shotgun - illustrative photo
Images source: © Benelli USA

12:56 PM EDT, July 3, 2024

The war in Ukraine has become the most intense battleground for drones in the world, leading to an intense search for cheap methods of eliminating them. One of the most cost-effective ways is using shotguns, with special ammunition developed to increase the effective range by up to three times. Let's explore the secret behind this innovation.

During the recent Eurosatory defense trade show, where the "heavyweights" like future tanks were showcased, there was room for other weapons. One of the physically small but pressing problems is equipping infantry soldiers with a cheap and lightweight way to kinetically eliminate drones.

According to Defense News, many companies producing small arms presented solutions to the drone problem at Eurosatory. Among them was Benelli Armi, famous for its shotguns designed for law enforcement, hunters, and sports shooters, and a member of the Beretta Holding group.

The company showcased ALDA antidrone ammunition, which stands for anti-light drone ammunition. This was designed to combat drones weighing less than 55 pounds at distances between 262 and 394 feet. This marks significant progress. For instance, in the war in Ukraine, soldiers using shotguns with lead hunting or sporting ammunition have an effective range against drones of only 98-131 feet.

A Benelli Armi representative told Defense News that for $3,100, you can get a highly effective shotgun (most likely the Benelli M4, available in Poland for around 9,000 PLN) and a supply of 1,000 rounds of ammunition, which will last a long time. An experienced shooter can eliminate a drone from 295 feet in just a few seconds using this antidrone ammunition.

Shotguns as antidrone weapons - a different shot material key to increased effectiveness

Unfortunately, the details about the new ammunition are unknown, but it can be assumed that a different shot material than lead or steel (recently used for ecological reasons) was employed. Tungsten, for example, is used in programmable ammunition systems like Skynex, tank ammunition, and the special Alternative Warhead of the GMLRS M31A1 rockets. It is ideal here.

The key here is the density of tungsten, which is 70 percent greater than lead and as much as 150 percent greater than steel. When targeting drones, kinetic energy is crucial, and the mass of the projectiles plays a significant role. Therefore, with identical volume and muzzle velocity (since each weapon has pressure resistance limits), tungsten shot can effectively destroy drones at greater distances compared to hunting or sporting ammunition.

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