A drone weapon is best described as a missile with a few hundred million years of evolution. Invented by the Ancients millions of years ago, drones are a cross between projectile and energy weapons, they are very destructive and are widely considered to be the most powerful conventional offensive weapon system known in Stargate Universe. They are relatively squid like in appearance, and are about the size of a normal surface-to-air missile.
Drones are extremely fast highly maneuverable ordnance which can be deployed individually, or in massive swarms. They are capable of operating in any environment, ranging from underwater, to atmosphere, to the vacuum of space. Drones are activated by and Ancient control chair, which also supplies their power.
Once activated, a drone will form an energy field around itself. The heat and energy output of this field allows the drone to pass through nearly any material, including energy fields, such as shields of a ship. This is quite effective against starships as drones have enough energy to drill holes straight through a target multiple times, causing decompression and disrupting systems, before hitting a critical system and detonating. However, the detonation of a drone is not that massive, only a few meters in diameter. Therefore, Drones are quite a poor choice for bombardment, excelling instead in precision strikes. Nevertheless, despite its small radius, the heat of a drone explosion is enough to destroy even a stargate
(Stargates were seen capable of operating even when plunged into a sun).
Drones are semi-intelligent, and will automatically detect and aim places in their target where their destruction can do the most damage. This makes them extremely dangerous. Two drones are all it takes to destroy a Goa'uld
mothership, if they hit a weak spot. Similarly, just one drone is enough to disable a Wraith cruiser or a Daedalus-class warship. a swarm of Drones is capable of tearing a Wraith Hive-ship apart in seconds. Drones are also capable of targeting small objects, like a single Kull or Wraith warrior. Drones that do not detonate before the target is destroyed are recalled back to the ship. They are also capable of dodging incoming fire.
Drones can be controlled from an Ancient control chair or a control console. Though they can be launched individually, they are generally launched in swarms of hundreds in a single salvo. Ancient structures boast an incredibly large amounts of drones. City-ships like Atlantis
and Ancients outposts likely have a capacity for hundreds of thousands of drones. A single Aurora-class battleship can hold up to several thousand drones, enough to lay waste to entire fleets of ships. A gateship can hold up to six drones, which, in theory, would be enough to destroy three Goa'uld motherships
, or six wraith cruisers.
Drones are powered from the power supply of the launch site, however, it is unclear if they store this power in on board batteries, or if the power is relayed to them
via a wireless connection. They require a ZPM to function at full capacity, but a simple naquadah generator is enough to power them for a while, although it will be drained extremely fast. drones also download all information about their target, from the control. Drones can be given a new target, recalled, or simply deactivated in mid flight. After they are activated and "informed", the drones are capable of differentiating between enemy and friendly ships, as well as prioritizing their targets based on their danger level. They will continue to attack their enemies if the control station is destroyed. If a drone is not uploaded with information on its activation, it will simply seek out the nearest fast moving object and attack it untill the information is received, or the drones is recalled.
Drones are able to bypass any shields to reach their target. The mechanism they employ to do this is unknown, but likely has something to do wit the energy field the envelops the drone. Only Asgard
and Ancient shields have shown the ability to stop them, but, given that these were Asuran drones, it is likely that they are not as sophisticated as their Lantean counterparts, as it was implied on several occasions that the drones could, in fact, pass through any shields.
This, along with the ability of dodge incoming fire extremely well, makes defense against the drones nearly impossible. However, for all their abilities, the drones do have one weakness: launch time. During the Asuran-Tau'ri war, the Tau'ri were able to overcome the Asuran drones by ambushing their ships and tearing them apart with Asgard plasma beams before the Asurans could launched their drones (not a single drone was fired in the whole war). This eventually allowed Tau'ri to achieve a victory over a more advanced opponent.
Mini-drones are a variation if the normal sized drones. While normal drones are used in battles against ships, Mini-drones are more of an anti-personnel weapon. They work in a similar manner to normal drones, but are control through an amulet, rather than a control chair (though it is possible that they can be controlled through a chair as well). Power requirements for mini drones are wastly smaller.