The Aviationist blog has posted a video about an intriguing UAV with a submachine gun, apparently posted in Russia.
While the clip is certainly entertaining - "I don't think I recognise any of those guys, let's take them out" and "That was awesome! Look at the guy's head rolling down the hill" - I can't vouch for the authenticity of the of the UAV itself.
I cannot discern empty cartridges falling out of the UAV, and why do the mannequins explode? I also can't make out exactly how the ammo in the 100 round clip gets into the gun. The operator also seems fairly casual on the safety front. Say the thing flies out of control, gun blazing away at full automatic? And when he is casually shooting up that gasoline, he doesn't seem to worry that it will set off the explosive charges this thing allegedly carries - which are later demonstrated when he uses the UAV to blow up a car.
On the other hand, there does appear to be a distinct recoil when the gun is firing.
Anyway, the clip reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague at Flight a few years back about the possibility of mounting guns on UAVs. I have seen videos of shotguns and grenade launchers on smaller systems, such as the one depicted in this video, but as far as I'm aware there are no plans extant to mount a gun on a bigger system, such as a Scan Eagle or a Predator .
A gun-armed UAV would have some big advantages. The system would have more flexibility, capable of hitting a point target, such as a single person or the engine block of a vehicle, without expending large, expensive guided munitions. A sort of sniper in the sky.
The main challenge would probably be mounting it. The best option would to have a side firing system similar to the AC-130, operating on the principle that it is easier for an aircraft to blast a target while circling it rather than flying straight at it. Apparently the AC-130's software consistently achieves first round accuracy, something which could be scaled down for a UAV-mounted gun system.
While the Charlene UAV depicted in the video may not be the real deal, the 'guns on UAV' space is definitely one ripe for fascinating development.