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Ukrainian farm drone now armed with PKM 7.62mm machine gun and Bullspike-AT grenade launcher



As reported by OSINTtechnical on January 21, 2024, a DJI Agras T30 agricultural drone in Ukrainian service has been modified to be equipped with a PKM 7.62x54mmR machine gun and a Bullspike-AT grenade launcher. This conversion of an agricultural drone into an armed platform capable of performing military tasks showcases the technical skills of Ukrainian engineers in adapting technology for defense purposes.
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 A DJI Agras T30 agricultural drone in Ukrainian service has been modified to be equipped with a PKM 7.62x54mmR machine gun and a Bullspike-AT grenade launcher. (Picture source: Twitter/OSINTtechnical, Rebert and Vitaly Kuzmin)


These modifications likely involved a significant overhaul of the drone's original software and hardware systems. Ukrainian engineers and programmers would have had to reconfigure the drone's AI smart engine, initially designed for precision agriculture, to serve military objectives, such as target acquisition and tracking.

Moreover, the integration of a Bullspike-AT grenade launcher and a PKM machine gun onto the drone would have required extensive engineering expertise. Ukrainian programmers would have needed to address various technical challenges, such as maintaining the drone's stability and balance during firing, mitigating issues related to recoil, and managing ammunition effectively. These modifications could also entail the development of specialized control systems and interfaces to enable operators to manage the newly added weaponry efficiently.

Manufactured by the Chinese company DJI, the Agras T30, originally designed for agricultural purposes, offers a range of capabilities aimed at enhancing efficiency in farming operations. The drone's high-precision radar system, including the Spherical Omnidirectional Radar System and Remote Control Planning Accuracy with RTK/GNSS, contributes to its operational efficiency.

This agricultural drone also incorporates features such as 3D operation planning by an AI smart engine and branch targeting technology, intended to ensure precise pesticide application and to reduce wastage. This AI engine, which offers various nozzle options and can accommodate different crop types and conditions, has probably been modified to effectively manage the PKM's rate of fire.

In terms of interesting technical specifications from a military point of view, the Agra T30 features a robust power system, top-view radar module, intelligent endurance/return function, and a maximum flight altitude of 4,500 meters. It is equipped with obstacle avoidance systems to enhance safety and features removable batteries, allowing for greater convenience in agricultural or military tasks. A single remote control can manage up to three drones, further offering flexibility in operations.

The Agras T30 is now armed with a Bullspike-AT grenade launcher, manufactured by the Bulgarian company VMZ EAD, intended for use against various targets, including tanks, self-propelled howitzers, armored vehicles, and fortified positions containing enemy personnel. The launcher employs a 72.5mm PG-22 high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rocket, featuring a point-initiating base-detonating (PIBD) fuze that offers a self-destruct function with a delay that can vary between 3.5 to 8 seconds.


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The Bullspike-AT, when loaded with the 72.5mm PG-22 projectile, is capable of penetrating up to 400mm of armor. (Picture source: Rebert)


The Bullspike-AT, when loaded with the 72.5mm PG-22 projectile, has a total weight of 3.4 kilograms, while the standard projectile incorporates a shaped-charge warhead capable of penetrating up to 400mm of armor. To ensure stable flight, the rocket is equipped with four stabilizers in its rear section. Notably, the rocket motor consumes its fuel entirely while still in the barrel, reducing potential harm to the shooter.

One of the launcher's advantages is its capability to be operated from within buildings, with an effective fire range extending up to 350 meters. The projectile itself weighs nearly 1.5 kilograms and achieves an initial velocity of approximately 133 meters per second. Various sighting options are available to enhance accuracy, and its deployment time typically ranges from 8 to 10 seconds.

While the Bullspike-AT launcher is designed for reuse, reloading should be conducted at a licensed facility to ensure safety and proper handling. Additionally, the Bullspike family includes other variants such as the Bullspike-TB (thermobaric) and Bullspike-OP (frag-HE), providing flexibility in selecting projectiles tailored to specific threats, including armored vehicles, fortified buildings, or infantry positions.

The drone is also armed with a PKM, a Soviet-era General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) introduced into service in 1969 which continues to be in use today. Designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, renowned for his work on AK rifles, the PKM was developed to replace older machine gun models and has since gained widespread usage.

The PKM weighs 7.5 kg and employs a 7.62 x 54 mmR rimmed rifle cartridge with a muzzle velocity of 825 meters per second. It features a variable cyclic rate of fire, ranging from 650 to 720 rounds per minute, while its practical rate of fire in combat conditions generally averages around 250 rounds per minute. Magazine options include 100, 200, or 250-round belts.

One of the PKM's notable attributes is its reputation for reliability, attributed in part to its use of proven Kalashnikov components from the AK series rifles and a straightforward design with minimal moving parts. It has demonstrated the ability to withstand challenging environmental conditions and endure significant stress while maintaining consistent functionality.

The PKM, exclusively a fully automatic firearm, operates on a gas-operated, air-cooled mechanism and fires from an open bolt. In terms of accuracy, the PKM is equipped with standard adjustable iron sights, allowing effective targeting within a range of 100 to 1,500 meters in 100-meter increments. It exhibits accuracy up to 800 meters against area targets and up to 500 meters against specific targets. Additionally, it can be adapted to accommodate optical or night sights.


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The PKM weighs 7.5 kg and employs a 7.62 x 54 mmR rimmed rifle cartridge with a maximum rate of fire of 720 rounds per minute. (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)


 

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