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The British army is to invest $44 million in a fleet of tiny hand-sized drones

Key Points
  • Britain’s army will invest millions of pounds in a fleet of “mini-drones” that can spy on its enemies.
  • The technology will be used on battlefields this year.
  • The funding will come from a £66 million cash injection from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence as it looks to increase Britain’s military robotics capabilities.
A 3D rendering of a swarm of drones.
Chesky_W | Getty Images

The British army will invest £31 million ($43.5 million) in a fleet of tiny drones in an effort to "outmanoeuvre enemies on the battlefield."

Funding for the mini-drones will come from a £160 million "Transformation Fund," U.K. Defence Minister Gavin Williamson announced on Wednesday, adding that the fund would inject £66 million into army robotics.

The new technology will provide soldiers with an "eye-in-the-sky," the Ministry of Defence said in a press release Tuesday.

British newspaper The Times reported that the drones will be "smaller than a hand" and weigh less than 200 grams. The report added that the fleet will be used to spy on terrorism suspects and monitor battlefields before soldiers arrive.

Williamson said at a military conference on Tuesday that the tech would be deployed to various locations including Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of this year.

"Each of these new technologies will enhance our Army's capabilities whilst reducing the risk to our personnel and I'm delighted we will be revolutionising frontline technology by the end of the year," he said.

The army tested a range of products at the end of last year as part of the biggest military robot exercise in British history, "Exercise Autonomous Warrior."