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Be Afraid: Russia Is Building Kamikaze Drones

Michael Peck

Michael Peck


Oh no.

Be Afraid: Russia Is Building Kamikaze Drones

Russia is testing “kamikaze drones,” or unmanned aircraft that are essentially flying artillery shells.

Factory testing of the KYB-BLA and Lancet weapons have been completed, Alexander Zakharov, chief designer at ZALA Aero, told Russian news agency TASS during a Russian defense trade show. ZALA Aero is part of famed small arms maker Kalashnikov, which is now delving into drones.

The U.S. military doesn’t like the term “kamikaze drone,” preferring to call these weapons “loitering munitions.” Whatever the name, they are small battlefield drones that are launched by an infantry platoon. Equipped with a camera, the drone can orbit the battlefield while relaying imagery to the troops on the ground. When the troops see a promising target, they can order the drone to dive into the target and detonate its warhead.

It is a technical solution to an age-old problem: how to hit an enemy on the other side of a hill, who is shielded from observation or fire by terrain. Artillery, mortars and airstrikes can accomplish this, but arranging these fires takes time. A loitering munition essentially gives infantry their own precision-guided, indirect firepower.

While the warheads on loitering munitions aren’t big—about the power of a grenade—the weapon is ideal for locating and hitting targets, such as enemy mortars, that are screened by terrain. Or, they can fly into windows to take out enemy positions during urban combat.

Zakharov described the Lancet as an intelligent multitasking weapon that can independently find a given target and hit it. "It is equipped with a television communication channel, which transmits an image in real-time and allows you to confirm the success of hitting the target.”

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