The British Army has deployed to Mali with the small DefendTex Drone40 that can be launched from 40mm grenade launchers and is capable of being used as part of a swarm.
The Drone40 system is capable of carrying several payloads and can be used as a loitering munition, however, it is only being used by the British Army for surveillance and reconnaissance as part of its deployment to Mali.
The British Army acquired the Drone40s through Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) Future Capability Group Buy And Try at Scale (BATS) procurement method, which allows the armed forces to trial equipment before committing to a long-term procurement programme.
Commenting on the system’s use, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesperson told Army Technology: “UK Armed Forces deployed in Mali for UN peacekeeping operations are equipped with the DefendTex D40 and other state-of-the-art Unmanned Aerial Systems to give them the best possible situational awareness.”
The Drone40 system weighs 190 grams and is capable of flying for 30 minutes to an hour. The system is marketed as being expendable or reusable. The British Army was first spotted using the drone last year during the Mission Rehearsal Exercise for the Mali deployment.
While the system is capable of being launched from an under-barrel grenade launcher, the system being used by the army in Mali is hand-launched. Drone40 has a range of over 12 miles.
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The 300 strong UK task force arrived in Mali last December, with personnel primarily drawn from the Light Dragoons and the Royal Anglian Regiment. The forces are deployed as part of the wider United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The UK has also deployed three Chinook helicopters to Mali as well as 100 logistics personnel in support of the French Operation Barkhane – which is separate to the UN mission.