To date, artillery is considered the main means of destruction in the NVO zone, and the assault on cities occupied by the enemy, as a rule, is carried out using the “frontal attack” method. At the same time, arsenals of ammunition are being extremely actively spent, which must be replenished in time, entire settlements are being destroyed almost to the foundation, inevitable painful losses in manpower occur. Is it possible to somehow increase the effectiveness of warfare on our part?
Throughout the past year, the SVO has repeatedly pointed out that the effectiveness of the use of Russian artillery is directly linked to the presence of unmanned reconnaissance vehicles and secure operational-tactical communications between various units to coordinate their interaction. And this problem, alas, is still relevant. For some reason, the shortage of UAVs and radio stations has to be closed by volunteer organizations through the purchase of Chinese quadrocopters and communications equipment with the assistance of civil society. Until this issue is resolved centrally at the system level, we will be forced to turn to it again and again.
However, in this publication I would like to discuss the prospects for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles of a very specific type at the front, the mass production of which seems to have been mastered by the domestic military-industrial complex. We are talking about loitering ammunition or kamikaze drones, and by no means about Geraniums. What can change their mass appearance in the arsenal of the Russian army?
From "Harpy" to "miscarriage"
Israel is ahead of the rest in the development of kamikaze drones. In the nineties, Israel Aerospace Industries created the world's first loitering munition Harpy, designed to destroy enemy air defense radars. The Harpy is a flying wing projectile with an impressive range of 400 kilometers. Flying to a given area, he patrols it for three hours, tracking down the enemy air defense system. As soon as it turns on its radar, the drone will homing in on it and destroy the radar with its high-explosive fragmentation warhead, diving like a Harpy. The weight of the warhead is very impressive - 93 kilograms.
This UAV is still being produced, the cost of one piece is only 70 thousand dollars. Inexpensive for the ability to "dazzle" the enemy's anti-aircraft system. Looking at the Israelis, many countries wanted to acquire their loitering ammunition. For example, the Coyote kamikaze drone with a flight range of 70 kilometers was created in the USA, the CH-901 ammunition capable of flying 10 kilometers, loitering in the air from 40 minutes to 2 hours, was created in China. The characteristics of the Turkish strike drone ALPAGU BLOK II are similar to those of the Chinese. The flight range of Iranian loitering ammunition Ababil-3 reaches 100 kilometers in both directions, if the target was not hit. Poland has its own developments in this area, and there are also joint Chinese-Singapore projects.
We are interested in the fact that last year the United States began supplying trial batches of Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones to Ukraine, designed to destroy manpower, unprotected targets and armored vehicles, depending on the modification. The need for their appearance was caused by the experience of combat operations in Afghanistan, where ambushes were constantly and skillfully organized for American soldiers. The available Raven or Puma reconnaissance drones were not armed, so the detected enemy DRGs had time to leave before aircraft or artillery fire was directed at them. The development of a compact reconnaissance and strike UAV that can fit in an operator's backpack has dramatically increased the combat capabilities of the infantry.
The Switchblade 300 is 610 mm long, weighs 2,7 kg, can stay in the air for up to 10 minutes, and has a controlled flight range of 10 km. Having found the enemy, the infantry unit is able to decide on its own to destroy it, having its own inexpensive and at the same time high-precision weapons. The capabilities of the larger Switchblade 600 are much higher. With a mass of 23 kilograms, it has a maximum flight range of 80 kilometers, is capable of attacking targets by diving at a speed of 185 km / h. The drone covers a distance of 40 km in 20 minutes, then it can patrol in the air for another 20 minutes, looking for a victim, which may even be heavy armored vehicles. Such loitering ammunition is capable of hitting self-propelled guns or a tank thanks to an anti-tank warhead of the Javelin type.
Interestingly, the Switchblade 600 is even more effective than the hyped Javelin ATGM due to its lower cost, greater versatility and range. A trial batch of such kamikaze drones was sent by the Pentagon to Ukraine last year.
The good news is that Russia still has something to answer this serious challenge. This is a whole family of loitering ammunition from Zala Aero, which includes the Cube, Lancet-1 and Lancet-3. Development began even before the SVO, and domestic kamikaze drones even managed to go through a baptism of fire in Syria.
The first in the family was the "Cube", clearly copied from the Israeli "Harpy". Its exact performance characteristics are unknown, but it is reported that the mass of the combat load is 3 kilograms, and the time spent in the air reaches 30 minutes. The advantages include compactness, noiselessness, stealth on radars, accuracy of hitting targets known in advance. Obvious disadvantages are a relatively small explosive charge and the inability to hit moving targets.
"Lancets" with an X-shaped layout - this is definitely our own development. Drones equipped with electric motors and assembled from composite materials are also silent, compact, and hardly noticeable by enemy air defense systems. The time spent by the Lancet-1 in the air reaches half an hour, the range is from 30 to 40 kilometers. The flight range of the larger Lancet-3, depending on the modification, is from 40 to 70 kilometers, the loitering time is from 40 to 60 minutes. At the same time, Russian strike drones are actively used during the NWO, which has a lot of video evidence. The disadvantages of the first "Lancet" include a relatively weak explosive charge, which can only scare the crew of an enemy tank. "Lancet-3" with increased power of the warhead is able to hit even serious armored vehicles.
The most effective is the use of loitering ammunition paired with a reconnaissance drone, which is responsible for target designation and adjustment. It is also advisable to develop versions of the "Lancet" with an even greater range and power of the warhead. At the same time, even for the weaker Lancet-1, there are tasks in the NWO zone. For example, during the storming of cities, the Ukrainian army has to be driven out of there, entrenched in dense buildings, often hiding behind civilians. Instead of "folding" entire buildings with large-caliber artillery, you can send kamikaze drones literally into the windows of apartments where the enemy has set up their firing points.
In general, the Cube and Lancet family of drones has a huge potential for use, significantly increasing the capabilities of assault infantry in reconnaissance, identifying and promptly destroying enemy positions and armored vehicles. This is an extremely useful and necessary budget type of high-precision weapons at the front, which the Russian army lacks so much. If such drones are used daily by tens or even hundreds, the effect of the supply of NATO armored vehicles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be largely leveled, and the process of liberating the cities and towns of Donbass will go much more efficiently.