At Partner 2023 PR-DC (Pink Research & Development Centre), a privately-owned Serbian company specialised in drones, exhibited a full range of products including loitering munitions, one of them nearly ready for the market while many other are still in the development stage. These are the third generation of drones developed by PR-DC, the company having currently a 25 people workforce, which should increase considerably when serial production of the drones proposed will be launched
The fully developed system is known as IKA-Bomber and comes in the form of an all composite hexacopter which lift is provided by six 812.8 mm rotors each one linked to a 5.7 kW brushless DC electric motor. These allow the IKA-Bomber to take off at a maximum 70 kg mass, carrying an optimal payload mass of 20 kg. Most of this is made of the “bomber” kit, composed of a 12 vertical tubes each containing a 60 mm mortar bomb. A release system allows dropping the selected number of bombs over the intended target- As standard weapon PR-DC proposes a national solution, the M73 60 mm bomb produced by the HK Krušik ammunition factory.
To give an idea of this ammunition lethality, the bomb has a length of 286 mm, a mass of 1.35 kg of which 250 grams is of trotyl explosive. It is fitted with two safety pins, one transport and one release, and with an M68P1-D impact super quick action fuse specifically designed for drone use, the round impacting the ground vertically. The typical release altitude is higher than 150 metres, the lethal range being 10 metres from the detonation point.
The IKA-Bomber operates at an altitude between 150 and 300 metres and has a mission radius up to 15 km, with endurance between 20 and 40 minutes. Its maximum speed is 90 km/h, cruise speed being 60 km/h, has a climb rate of 10 m/s and can withstand winds up to 8 m/s, while its ceiling is 7,000 metres. The drone was fully designed by PR-DC, the company being also responsible for the carbon fibre reinforced polymers composite structure and the software.
When carried in a rucksack the IKA-Bomber is 1,200 mm long, 1,100 mm wide and 850 mm high, dimensions becoming 2,490 x 2,400 x 670 mm when arms and rotors are deployed. The drone is operated via the IKA-CTRL flight controller, which has a control and a monitoring mode, the armament control being separate. The operator can see the scene via the video-stream provided by the data-link, images being provided by a 3 axis gimballed electro-optical suite with day and thermal channel, a targeting camera with a x10 zoom being also installed on the drone.
The IKA-Bomber is currently awaiting qualification by the Serbian Ministry of Defence, before being ready to be delivered to customers, the green light being expected in November 2023. According to PR-DC representatives a number of potential customers have already expressed a strong interest in the drone, many of them from the Middle East. EDR On-Line understood that during Partner 2023 PR-DC carried out a series of demonstrations for potential customers at its facility Šimanovci, some 15 km west of Belgrade.
If the IKA-Bomber was definitely the centre of attention at the PR-DC stand, the release of dummy bombs being routinely demonstrated, another eye-catcher was the carpet of single-bomb carrier drones lying on the floor, epitomising the concept of swarm attack. The IKA Kamikaze is a one-way drone destined to crash on the target with its payload, the same M73 60 mm mortar bomb (hence its KAM-60 name) by HK Krušik previously described, which is easily strapped on the drone body.
Here too the airframe is capable of VTOL, the design being a quadcopter with a 3.5 kg maximum take off mass, payload mass being that of the 60 mm bomb. It can fly up to 15 km one-way, GNSS providing navigation via waypoints, while the camera allows manual navigation by the operator, which uses the same ground station of the Ika-Bomber which is standard for all PR-DC third generation drones, the camera being also used to positive identify the target and guide the KAM-60 on it, an operation being also feasible by inserting the target grids in the navigation system. According to PR-DC the software allows coordinating the time on target of multiple KAM-60s in order to maximise the effect. EDR On-Line understood this loitering munition is in the development phase, no timeline being provided for its availability on the market.
A loitering munition carrying an M72 81 mm mortar bomb is also under development. Known as KAM-81, it carries the 3.05 kg bomb containing 650 grams of explosive, with a killing range of 14 metres at a range of up to 75 km, the endurance being 40 minutes versus a cruise sped of 125 km/h. Take off mass is 9 kg, the system being totally different from the KAM-60 as it comes with a biplane layout with cruciform tailplane and rear motor with pushing propeller, which of course does not provide it with VTOL capacity; The bomb is inserted in the fuselage from the front, a small gimballed EO/IR sensor being located under the fuselage. Although less flexible compared to VTOL systems, it has a considerable advantage in terms of speed, endurance and range.
To exploit the advantages of both rotary and conventional lift, PR-DC is developing the MW-01, for mixed wing. Aimed at reconnaissance missions it will not carry any explosive device but rather a better EO/IR suite at ranges up to 100 km. No metrics were provided, EDR On-Line understanding this drone being still in the early development stages. When taking off and landing lift is provided by four ducted rotors in the fuselage and two in the wing tips, a seventh electric motor powering the two-blade propeller at the rear, which is characterised by a V-shape tailplane. When flying on aerodynamic lift energy consumption is much reduced compared to vertical flight, which should allow the MW-01 to have a sufficient time on target to be used for example to acquire targets for the company loitering munitions.
PR-DC is also developing a cargo drone, the IKA-50-M-T, a hexacopter with a 50 kg payload and 70 litres volume cargo bay, with a 40 minutes endurance and a 15 km range, and a low cost aluminium target drone, the EXD-01, a quadcopter with tilt rotors, capable to fly up to 120 km/h carrying 5 kg of payloads of different kind for simulating targets.
Photos by P. Valpolini