Warmate circulating ammunition for the Polish army. New kamikaze drones from WB Electronics

The WB Electronics Warmate combat unmanned aerial vehicle is a combination of precise munitions and a small drone. The popular media term – “kamikaze drone” – accurately reflects the principle of operation of this weapon. Its main advantage is the combination of two functions in one small device: target recognition and destruction.

On April 29, 2022, the head of the Ministry of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, announced that he had signed an agreement with the Polish company WB Electronics regarding new supplies of Warmate for the Polish military. What is equipment called circulating munitions or “kamikaze drone” and how does it work?

The Warmate looks like a model airplane – it has a wingspan of 1.6 meters and just over a meter long. It’s light equipment – it weighs less than 6 kg when ready for action, and it needs a small pneumatic launcher to take off. Its key element is the warhead, designed in three variants: high-explosive, cumulative and reconnaissance.

Warmate circulating ammunition – three warheads, many tasks

In the first two cases, in addition to the explosive charge, the head is equipped with a simple unstabilized camera. It allows you to observe from above, detect the target and – after the decision to attack – guide the drone with a “suicide” strike.

When attacking “soft” targets such as naked soldiers or unarmored vehicles, a warhead containing 300 grams of TNT explosive is used. A cumulative warhead is used to attack armored equipment, which provides penetration up to 240 mm RHA (homogeneous rolled steel – a conversion factor that allows the effectiveness of anti-tank shells to be compared).

It is important to note that the drone with a combat warhead does not need to be destroyed – if the operator cannot find the target, he can either destroy the device remotely or secure the warhead against a explosion, then land the drone which can be used again.

Reusing Warmate is also possible with the third head type. There are no explosives in it – instead a high-quality stabilized camera is placed, allowing day and night observations.

Warmate – a swarm of flying grenade launchers

Warmate can stay in the air for up to 50 minutes and travel at speeds of up to 80 km/h. Its range is 30 km, and the practical flight altitude – up to 300 m, although in test conditions it is possible to achieve a much higher altitude.

Warmate and three different heads
Photo source: © WB Group

Warmate and three different heads

The considerable flight time of such a small device fully justifies its name of “circulating ammunition”. The operator can take off the drone and then fly over the selected location for several tens of minutes, waiting for the appearance of the enemy and the right moment to attack.

In practice, Warmate is something like a grenade launcher suspended in the air, and at the same time flying “eyes”. From the point of view of the unit using such weapons, the possibilities of recognizing and attacking various types of targets increase dramatically.

Importantly, the system is constantly evolving – its version 3.0 offers, among other things, very quiet training, making detection difficult, as well as the possibility of cooperation of a dozen machines within the swarm.

war drone
Photo credit: ©Lic. CC BY-SA 4.0, VoidWanderer, Wikimedia Commons

war drone

In such a situation, the drones communicating with each other maintain their position by themselves, creating a virtual “flying warehouse” from which the operator can send successive machines to successive attacks. The manufacturer also emphasizes the use of artificial intelligence algorithms, supporting navigation and attack targets.

WB Electronics Warmate – technical data:

  • Range: 30km
  • Top speed: 80 km/h
  • Maximum attack speed: 150 km/h
  • Drive: electric motor, thrust propeller
  • Wingspan: 1.6m
  • Hull length: 1.1m
  • Maximum take-off weight: 5.7 kg
  • Service ceiling: 150 – 300 m

WB Electronics Warmate for the Polish Army

The advantages of the drone developed by WB Electronics have already been appreciated by overseas customers. Warmate has already been ordered by Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Polish circulating ammunition also defends Ukraine against Russian aggression, and since 2017 this equipment has also been handed over to Polish soldiers – initially to special forces.

The new order is a plan – unrelated to the war in Ukraine – increasing the number of Warmates available to Polish soldiers. The drones are to be delivered to customers later this year.

Łukasz Michalik, journalist for Wirtualna Polska

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