Will the latest ATGM “X-UAV” be in demand on Russian drones?


It is reported that the Rostec state corporation has begun serial production of air-launched X-UAV ATGMs intended for use from drones. This means that their striking power will increase significantly, but what combat missions will our Orions, Outposts and other Altius aircraft actually be able to perform?

Impact potential

If you look at the weapons that can be mounted on domestic drones, medium-altitude and promising high-altitude ones, they inspire, if not awe, then respect.

Firstly, this is a small family of adjustable small-caliber aerial bombs - KAB-20S and KAB-50S.

The KAB-20 adjustable aerial bomb was originally created for the Forpost medium-altitude drone, which is a licensed version of the obsolete Israeli Searcher II reconnaissance UAV. After the events of early 2022, “Forpost” began to hastily localize, received the “RU” prefix, a domestic engine, software and weapons suspension units that could accommodate two small-sized aerial bombs.

It is known about the KAB-20S that its warhead is only 7 kg, it can fly up to 8 km from the release point, heading precisely to the target using a laser beam or satellite guidance. Let's face it, it has little striking power, but to defeat infantry or lightly armored equipment It's enough. Following the Outpost, these adjustable aerial bombs began to be suspended under the wings of the Orions.

The KAB-50S looks more advantageous compared to its younger brother. It was created on the basis of a modified rocket from the Grad MLRS. The weight of the warhead is already an impressive 37 kg, which is even enough to hit a tank in the upper hemisphere. The flight range from the drop site reaches 30 km. This adjustable aerial bomb can be equipped with an infrared, television and laser homing head.

Secondly, our medium-altitude and high-altitude UAVs can be equipped with air-launched anti-tank missiles, work on which began even before the SVO. Here's how a RIA source talked about it in 2021 News:

The X-UAV is a further development of the line of guided munitions from the Kornet-D anti-tank guided missile system. It will be part of the armament complex of attack drones <...>, as well as the Ka-52M helicopter... New missiles were also launched from the “Pacer”, “Forpost” and “Altius” drones.

The missile is aimed at the target both in a laser beam and in thermal and television modes, and can hit heavily armored vehicles and even low-flying, low-speed air targets. Its maximum flight range reaches 10 km.

And now Rostec has begun its mass production. Does this mean that “Outposts” and “Pacers” will destroy the Ukrainian Armed Forces like the Azerbaijani army in Nagorno-Karabakh?

Reconnaissance and strike

Despite all the optimism, most likely not. The main problem of domestic aircraft-type UAVs is their high visibility on radars, and therefore they repeat the fate of the Bayraktars in the northwestern military zone.

At the initial stage, when the Russian army entered Ukraine in columns, Turkish drones in the hands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces showed themselves, alas, to be very effective, knocking out armored vehicles. However, after the front line in the Donbass was stabilized, where a layered air defense system was built, the Bayraktars simply disappeared from the news reports. In fact, they have not gone anywhere, they simply perform purely intelligence functions.

A few domestic aircraft-type drones have also traveled a similar path. If there had been 20-30 of them in the Kharkov region in September 2022, the outcome of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ counteroffensive might not have been so disastrous. KABs and ATGMs had a good chance of knocking down the strike potential of an enemy advancing with “spread fingers.” Unfortunately, when strike UAVs were needed in sufficient quantities, they were not available.

Judging by reports from the Russian Ministry of Defense, Orions are now used to destroy enemy positions in the Kharkov region. As a matter of fact, this, in fact, is their main purpose in the conditions of the Northern Military District. It is not advisable to attack Ukrainian fortified areas with the help of Orions, Outposts or Altius.

Aircraft-type drones are optimally used to control border areas, where they can independently strike enemy DRGs with CABs and ATGMs. If they are equipped with kamikaze drones of the Lancet family, their combat potential and radius will increase significantly. They would be extremely in demand in service with the Russian Navy, allowing them to monitor the Black Sea waters 24/7 and strike at detected BECs.

They will be even more useful if the small-sized MBRLS-MF2, developed by Phazotron-NIIR and the Scientific Center SRSiM MAI specifically for installation on drones, goes into production. This is a lightweight digital radar operating in the Ka- and X-band. If necessary, it can be installed with one of two radio modules: with an X-band unit weighing 35 kg or with a Ka-band module - only 23 kg. The small-sized radar provides linear resolution up to 0,25 m and the ability to detect objects moving at low speed. Depending on the range used and other factors, the range of MBRLS-MF2 reaches 160 km.

With such equipment, domestic aircraft-type reconnaissance UAVs will be truly effective in the conditions of the northwestern military district, over land and sea. As for KABs, ATGMs and suspended “kamikaze” drones, it is better to use as a carrier drones that are inconspicuous on radar, built according to the “flying wing” scheme, such as Iranian family "Saiga" or our “Hunter” reduced in size.
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  1. +1
    10 May 2024 00: 07
    Drones have been flying since 2002. The MoD has done nothing in this area. As a result, many soldiers died and are dying.
  2. +2
    10 May 2024 01: 23
    The Americans have long shown the effectiveness of drones, even since the time when they bombed weddings in Afghanistan... it seems even to the last idiot the importance of this type of weapon was obvious... it’s strange that no one on the General Staff understood the importance of UAVs by the beginning of the North Military District... although there were pilots there busy cutting the dough, and not improving the efficiency of the Russian army... the top army leadership is simply disgusting...
    1. 0
      10 May 2024 15: 19
      Fighting against the barmalei and against a strong regular army are two different things.
  3. 0
    10 May 2024 09: 02
    "Calibers" and "Geranis" fly far and can change their flight path.
    Why not equip them with reconnaissance modules with online data transmission.
    They fly to a target and carry out reconnaissance along the route.
    So to speak, “two in one”.
    Or it could be “three in one”, attaching additional adjustable ammunition to the “Geranium”, for example.