36 inches in length
- "Thousands of bright yellow—I don't know—They're coming from the surface! I don't know what they are! They're cutting the enemy fleet to shreds! My God, it's beautiful."
- —Kirkland during the Battle of Antarctica
Drone weapons, known more colloquially as drones, are projectile weapons that serve as the primary weapon system of the Ancients. A hybrid energy/projectile weapon, drones are capable of penetrating most shields and armor with ease. A single drone can destroy most fighters and cause severe damage to smaller capital ships, while hundreds or thousands can obliterate dozens of vessels with little effort.
- "Our shields are of no use!"
A drone is a vaguely squid-shaped weapon about three feet long. It has a rounded yellow head with small spikes that jut out to the rear of the weapon. Six tails extend from the rear of the weapon, which taper into a point while in flight. A drone is an extremely powerful guided weapon, comparable to a highly sophisticated missile. Using an internal sensor for guidance a drone can penetrate or even bypass all but the most powerful shields and burrow through thick armor with ease while avoiding attempts to shoot them down and avoiding allied targets. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2")
When active, a drone emits a high-temperature energy field capable of burning through nearly all forms of conventional matter, as well as allowing it to punch through energy shielding with ease. This not only renders a drone capable of causing severe damage in a single strike, but allows it to make multiple attack runs on a single target before running out of energy. Drones are precision weapons, designed to cause massive damage to small targets without destroying anything around them. This makes them ideal as anti-fighter or anti-ship weapons, but less effective as ground-suppression weapons, despite their low collateral damage.
Drones are usually deployed using a Control chair, which can command thousands of them at once. Drones are capable of self-guidance, but the chair also allows for direct control. When attacking in a large group, drones use swarming tactics to maximize damage, surrounding and assaulting a target from all directions. Any drones still active after the attack has been completed will return to storage for later use. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", ATL: "Rising", "No Man's Land", "Enemy at the Gate")
Drones are among the most powerful weapons in existence. They can pass through Goa'uld shields with ease and punch through the organic armor of Wraith Hive ships without being destroyed. In an alternate reality, it was stated that an Ori warship was driven off by drone weapons, though it's not made clear if it simply retreated or was destroyed. Two to three drones are sufficient to destroy a Ha'tak vessel or an Asuran Aurora-class battleship when the ships are hit in key areas, which drones automatically detect and aim for, and a few dozen drones tore apart a Hive ship in less than a minute. Asuran aurora-class battleships have drones as well but since the asurans stopped technologically at the level the ancients were at when the asurans were created, which was in the height of the wraith-ancients war. it seems likely that the ancients had more advanced drones. because the asurans had no intention on improving their technology while the ancients had every intention to improve their technology. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", "It's Good to Be King", "The Road Not Taken", ATL: "No Man's Land", "Be All My Sins Remember'd")
Though most shields are incapable of blocking a drone, some races possess the technology to defend against them. Drones will cause significant strain against the Asgard shielding gifted to the Tau'ri but wont pass the shields with ease, as well as the shielding of the Ancients themselves, though the drones will still cause strain. Todd remarked that it would only take one drone to disable the Daedalus's hyperdrive, implying that the drone weapons of Atlantis could penetrate its shield. It seems likely that the ancients would upgrade their weapons technology since the creation of the Asurans considering they were at war at them time. The Travelers presumably have strong enough shields to resist drones to a limited degree, given their participation in the attack on Asuras, though it was their less advanced ships that took the most damage and their aurora class ship was already damaged before, and was old but it survived the battle. and considering the Nox are at the level the ancients were before they ascended it seems likely that the Nox have the knowledge to make their technology impervious to drones. but since they are non-combatants they'll probably cloak. its unclear if the furlings have the technology. so altogether 7 races possess shield techology that drones have a lesser effect on. Asgard, Tauri, Nox have the knowledge, Ancients themselves, Asurans, Travelers, possibly the Furlings. (SG1: "New Order, Part 2", ATL: "Be All My Sins Remember'd", "The Lost Tribe")
A drone's targeting computer retains information on friend and foe provided by a Control chair. Even if communication with a chair is terminated, a drone, assuming it retains power, is still capable of carrying out its last orders. If a drone is given no targeting information when launched, it will simply seek out the nearest valid target and pursue it until successful or instructed otherwise. Drones have also proven capable of seeking, tracking, and engaging targets of their own accord, dodging weapons fire directed towards them, and dodging any obstacles in their path. It also appears that drones are automatically set to detonate on impact whenever smaller objects, such as a fighters or individuals, are designated as targets. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", ATL: "Rising", "The Defiant One", "No Man's Land")
It appears that drone weapons are powered through an advanced form of wireless energy transfer, as they have shut down and fallen from the sky in mid-flight when the Zero Point Module powering the City-ship they were launched from were depleted, implying that an outside power source is required to keep the drones in flight. However, the ZPMs were already near depletion in the first place, and it could be that the drones possessed so little power when they were launched that they shut down far quicker than they would have had they been launched using a not-so-depleted power source. This could also be explained by the fact that the drones were under direct and continuous control by control chair instead of having their targeting information directly uploaded on launch, so they shut down because they were no longer being given any flight information. (ATL: "The Tower")
Ancient vessels and structures possess varying amounts of drones: City-ships and Ancient outposts boast tens of thousands of drones, likely hundreds of thousands at full capacity, that can swarm and destroy multiple fleets of ships, Aurora-class battleships somewhere in the upper hundreds to lower thousands (more than enough to destroy several ships in one salvo), and Puddle Jumpers contain at least eight. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", "It's Good to Be King", ATL: "The Siege, Part 2", "No Man's Land", "Adrift")
Drone weapons also possess their own neural interface technology on the outer shell, allowing someone with the Ancient Technology Activation gene to set them as timebombs by touching them and using their mind. It is unknown what other functions can be altered or activated in this way. (ATL: "Entanglement")
Drone weapons were used extensively during the Ancients' war with the Wraith; however they became increasingly rare after the Ancients left the Pegasus Galaxy for Earth. Ten thousand years later, only Ancient outposts and vessels possess them, and there is currently no way to replenish their stockpiles as no society apart from the secluded and now-destroyed Asurans—who had no desire to share their knowledge—knew how to construct them. In the Milky Way, the only encountered drone weapons are located at the Antarctic outpost, though it can be assumed that other stockpiles may exist elsewhere in the Milky Way. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", ATL: "The Siege, Part 2", "The Tower", "No Man's Land", "Be All My Sins Remember'd")
The Asurans also possessed drone technology, which should come as no surprise seeing as they emulated Ancient society in every possible way barring Ascension. However, due to the fact that the Asurans possessed no desire to better either themselves or their technologies, it is unlikely that they improved the design of their drone weapons in any way. (ATL: "Progeny")
Drone weapons were also used in defense of Earth during the Battle of Antarctica, which circumvented the shields and penetrated the hulls of the Anubis' Ha'taks directly and easily destroying the invading fleet. After the battle, an outpost was created to study the technology in the newly discovered outpost, and the scientists stationed there studied at least one of the thousands of drones left over from the battle. When Dr. Carson Beckett was using the Ancient Control chair, he accidentally activated the drone, which chased after the incoming helicopter containing Major John Sheppard and Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. Luckily, Beckett was able to shut down the drone before it destroyed the helicopter. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 2", ATL: "Rising", "The Siege, Part 2", "The Tower", "No Man's Land", "Vegas")
- Joseph Mallozzi stated on his blog that the Ancients possessed drone technology in the Milky Way, while "Mini-drones" were developed in the Pegasus Galaxy.
- GateWorld's article on