What Makes Russian Lancet Suicide Drones So Deadly and Frightening?

Russia claims that its Lancet loitering munition, also known as a suicide Kamikaze drone, possesses groundbreaking anti-laser jamming technology, making it impervious to many anti-drone systems. These loitering munitions, including The Lancet and KYB (Cuba), are manufactured by the Russian company ZALA Aero, and they have achieved significant success in combat operations.

Videos released by the Russian Ministry of Defense demonstrate the Lancet drones effectively targeting and hitting artillery tanks, radar troop concentrations, light armored vehicles, and buildings. In a specific instance on November 4th, 2022, footage circulated on the Russian social network VK showcased the deployment of Lancet drones to attack patrol boats of the Project Giza type.

Although the Russian Ministry of Defense did not provide details about the specific drone used in these operations, the unique design of the Lancet drone is clearly identifiable in the footage. Developed by ZALA Aero, a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov Group, the Lancet and Cub loitering munitions, including Kamikaze drones, have gained recognition.

The Lancet drone serves the purpose of conducting reconnaissance and strike missions. It was unveiled to the public for the first time in 2019, exhibiting its capabilities in both intelligence gathering and engaging enemy targets.

What Makes Russian Lancet Suicide Drones So Deadly and Frightening?

The development of these advanced loitering munitions showcases Russia’s commitment to enhancing its unmanned aerial technology for military applications.

The Lancet drone is available in two versions: the Lancet-1 and the Lancet-3. The Lancet-1 is the smaller version, capable of carrying a one-kilogram payload and has an endurance of 30 minutes. On the other hand, the Lancet-3 is the larger version, with a maximum payload capacity of three kilograms, an endurance of 40 minutes, and a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour.

Both versions of the Lancet drone share the same design, resembling a missile with optics located in the nose section. They feature two groups of x-shaped wings; one positioned in the middle of the front fuselage and the other at the end. The use of a dual x-shaped tail design enhances stability and maneuverability, leveraging aerodynamic principles.

This design approach has also contributed to effectively reducing the size of the drone. When comparing the Lancet-3 and Lancet-1 drones, it becomes apparent that the newer version, the Lancet-3, possesses superior offensive capabilities.

The Lancet drones utilize an electric motor that operates at the lowest noise level, enabling surprise attacks. This method has a significant psychological effect on the enemy, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the drone.

The Lancet-3 drone is launched from a catapult and does not have a provision for landing. Instead, it is designed to self-destruct upon hitting enemy targets. Additionally, the Lancet-3 drone is capable of crashing into enemy drones. It has earned the nickname “Nom legare flying Kalashnikov” or “flying AK-47” due to its simplicity, usability, and reliability.

The Zala KYB strike drone, also known as the Cub or Cube, is a high-precision Kamikaze drone operated by the Russian army to strike remote ground and sea targets. Developed and manufactured by Russian defense company Zala Aero, a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov group, it draws upon the combat experience of the Russian armed forces in Syria between 2015 and 2018.

The Zala KYB drone was launched at the international defense exhibition IDEX in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 and is currently operated by the Russian army.

This military-grade drone can deliver various weapon payloads with high precision during military operations. It can be guided based on manually set target coordinates or image-based target guidance.

The Zala KYB drone can function as a suicide drone or Kamikaze drone, effectively destroying small-sized targets on the ground and at sea. Its design features a wide triangular-winged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) specifically designed for hidden launch and silent operation during missions.

The Zala KYB UAV, or Cub, can attack both ground and sea-based enemy infrastructure and lightly armored targets. It has a wingspan of 1.21 meters, a length of 0.95 meters, and a height of 0.165 meters. The drone is versatile and can be used for missions such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and target engagement.

Incorporating artificial intelligence, the Zala KYB UAV utilizes visual identification technology known as AIVI for real-time recognition and classification of targets. The AIVI technology significantly increases the area covered during a single flight, improving the drone’s real-time lethality and autonomy.

The standard version of the Kamikaze drone can be launched from a catapult. After launch, it hovers in the air to identify a target. With precision, the drone then crashes into the target from the upper atmosphere, following a vertical trajectory. It can strike battle tanks and detonate an explosive to pierce the turret.

The Zala KYB UAV demonstrates impressive propulsion and performance capabilities, making it an effective tool in military operations.

The Zala KYB UAV, or Cub, features a pusher configuration with a propeller housed in the tail part of the drone. Powered by an electric motor unit, it can achieve speeds ranging from 80 kilometers per hour to 130 kilometers per hour. With a maximum payload capacity of three kilograms, the loitering munition can carry sensors and explosive warheads. It has a flight endurance of 30 minutes and can target objects at a range of approximately 40 kilometers.

What Makes Russian Lancet Suicide Drones So Deadly and Frightening?

The export variant of the Cub, known as Cub E, successfully passed state tests in November 2021. Equipped with guided munitions, it received approval for export from Russian authorities in January 2022. The serial supply of Cub E to the Russian Armed Forces is scheduled for 2022. In collaboration with Rosoboronexport, a state-owned defense products exporter, Kalashnikov Group aims to promote the loitering munition in the international market.

A modified version of the drone was demonstrated at the Army 2021 International Military and Technical Forum in Moscow. This modification enables the Cub to operate as part of a guided swarm. The drone can be launched from high-speed boats and special-purpose ships in the naval domain. The updated naval version utilizes a special launcher installed on high-speed boats like Kalashnikov’s BK-016 high-speed landing craft and other naval platforms. Future plans include the development of a deck container launcher to facilitate the launch of guided swarms.

Both the Cub and the Lancet drones are products of Zala Aero, a member of the Rostec Kalashnikov consortium. Experts speculate that Russia may increase its utilization of suicide UAVs, such as the Ushi Mars series, in the near future.