Home What are Kamikaze Drones?

What are Kamikaze Drones?

Kamikaze drones (or suicide drones) are loitering munitions containing explosive materials and work similarly to autonomous surveillance drones. But, after finding the potential target in the intended air-space, they’ll hit the target to produce an active explosion.

IAI Harpy Image Credits: Jastrow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons1

Kamikaze Drones operates in both autonomous and semi-autonomous modes.

How loitering munitions got aliases as kamikaze drones and suicide drones?

Kamikaze (神風)2 is a Japanese word that means “divine wind” or “spirit wind”.

Ohka Model 11 replica at the Yasukuni Shrine Yūshūkan war museum Image Credits: Megapixie, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons3

During World War II, Japanese Special Attack Units named Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (神風特別攻撃隊, “Divine Wind Special Attack Unit”) of military aviators who flew suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign.


Since the loitering munitions operations are similar to the kamikaze attacks (the only difference is the replacement of onboard pilots with advanced onboard computers), they are called suicide drones or kamikaze drones.

Difference: Kamikaze Drones vs. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV)

The Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) are the type of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) that carries aircraft ordnance (weapons) like bombs, missiles, rockets and guns ammunition as payloads.

XM501 US prototype capable of launching LAM (loitering attack munition) Image Credits: US Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Whereas the construction of kamikaze drones includes inbuilt explosives, and they cannot able to return to their original launching station after their explosion.

Kamikaze Drones: In Action

Video Credits: IAI

The above video contains the operation of IAI Harop, a loitering munition developed by the MBT division of Israel Aerospace Industries. The drone can either operate fully autonomously, using its anti-radar homing system, or it can take a human-in-the-loop mode.

Swarm of Kamikaze Drones

Swarm robotics is an approach to the coordination of multiple robots as a system that consists of large numbers of mostly simple physical robots.


Drone swarms are collection of drones, that are flying in the desired airspace to perform certain or several intelligent operations, that they’re intended to do.

Video Credits: STM

As one of the leading manufacturers of loitering munition platforms and surveillance drones, STM maintains its research on swarm drones aligns with military applications.

In the above video, a swarm of 20 Kargu drones performs pattern formation, rotation of formations and translation of formations.


I’ve tried to explain about kamikaze drones (loitering munitions) with the acquired information from various sources. I’m expectantly waiting for your valuable feedback and suggestions regarding this topic.

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  1. IAI Harpy, Wikipedia. 

  2. Kamikaze, Wikipedia. 

  3. Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, Wikipedia. 


This post is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by the author.




Dhulkarnayn - Elucidate Drones


I am 25 years old drone developer, holds a postgraduate degree in Avionics. I've worked on a few complex projects like drone swarms, drone light shows, autonomous landing of drones using computer-vision algorithms, etc. Since childhood, I'm much passionate about electronics, aerospace & engineering.

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