Washington: Unmanned Predators and Reapers aircraft are already a scourge in Pakistan's tribal badlands, but soon the US forces will confront the militants with a new weapon, miniaturised "Kamakaze" drones, launched by soldiers in the battlefield itself.
   
Labelled 'switchblade', the mini drones are small enough to fit into a soldier's backpack and hover quietly in the sky before diving to slam into a human target with precision.
   
The 'switchblade' will join the US Army's arsenal after a USD 4.9 million deal was signed with the manufacturer Aerovironment in June. But, the US army was tight-lipped about its exact induction schedule.
   
The drones unlike Predators and Reapers are touted as a weapon which only hits the targets and can avoid collateral damage.
   
The California-based firm said the drone weighing just 2 kgs is powered by a small electric motor and can receive signals from overhead in realtime, allowing soldiers to identify an enemy, the paper quoted a company statement as saying.
   
After the targets are identified, using the live video feed, the operator locks its trajectory onto the target and the drone then flies into the target, detonating a small explosive.
   
The company statement said the switchblade flies quietly at high speed and delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimising collateral damage.
   
The US forces currently use larger Predator and Reaper drones to hunt down al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and elsewhere.
   
These drones fire powerful Hellfire missiles and drop heavy bombs, which sometimes cause civilian casualties, fuelling public outrage.
   
The makers of the new drone say that the unmanned vehicles can be called off at the last moment even after a kill mission has been ordered.
   
"The drones have a high level of control not available in other weapons," the company claims.

(Agencies)