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Army to deploy autonomous ‘bug drones’ that spy on enemies more than a mile away

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The British Army will deploy "bug drones " that can spy on targets more than a mile away.

The tiny machines can fit in the palm of a soldier's hand and be flown in heavy winds for missions up to 2km (1.2 miles) away, and they weigh about the same as the iPhone 12 Pro MX.

They have a 40-minute battery life that covers flying, recording and beaming video back to the troops while they are said to be able to cope with any weather.

Generals hope they will prove a major boost to tactical missions.

James Gerard, principal technologist at BAE Systems' Applied Intelligence, said: "In even the toughest weather, the bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what's around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update.

The device has a "stealthy low visual profile" according to BAE Systems and can fly in winds of more than 50mph.

The first 30 units have been delivered to the Army, who tested the drones in a series of trial missions designed to closely emulate the challenges the machines fight face in a combat situation.

Drones are already being used by armed forces around the world in the form of high-altitude unmanned vehicles fitted with surveillance equipment or weaponry.

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Their use has been heavily criticised by human rights groups, with the USA and Turkey among the countries using drones to target enemies away from their borders.

The EU and the UK are both said to have plans to use high-altitude drones to spot refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and in the English Channel.

The drone delivery comes amid a period of huge uncertainty for the future of the British armed forces.

The head of the UK armed forces warned that there is a risk of a new world war if current, smaller conflicts escalate out of control.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson then announced £16.5billion in extra funding for the military over the next four years.

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