In recent years, the so-called. loitering ammunition - special unmanned aerial vehicles capable of attacking targets with a direct hit. Several such products have been created in our country, and they are already demonstrating their potential. So, two versions of the Lancet kamikaze drone from Zala Aero passed all the necessary tests and were even used in a real military operation.
Two UAVs of the Lancet line were developed by Zala Aero from the Kalashnikov Concern. Products "Lancet-1" and "Lancet-3" were first presented two years ago, at the military-technical forum "Army-2019". Then they showed prototypes of such equipment, and also revealed its characteristics and capabilities.
In the future, the development organization, together with the Ministry of Defense, carried out the necessary tests and prepared production. In December last year, it became known that a number of new UAVs from Zala Aero are being purchased by the armed forces and are being used. Several such products, incl. strike systems used in Syria against real targets.
The adoption of the "Lancet" into service and the launch of full-scale production has not yet been reported, although these issues were previously discussed in the media. At the same time, the development of the project continues. So, in April, it was reported about the creation of new methods of combat use of loitering ammunition, allowing to obtain special results.
"Lancet-1" and "Lancet-3" are built according to the same scheme, but differ from each other in size, weight and some other parameters. Both UAVs have a high aspect ratio fuselage, on which two X-shaped sets of wings are installed. During transport, they fold and unfold before launch. The control is carried out due to the deflected surfaces on the planes.
The nose of the vehicle houses an optoelectronic observation and detection system, which also serves as a homing head. There are satellite navigation facilities on board. The drone is controlled remotely by radio; some stand-alone functions are provided. The flight is performed using an electric motor with a pushing propeller.
Loitering ammunition "Lancet-1" has a take-off weight of only 5 kg. Its payload is a high-explosive fragmentation warhead weighing 1 kg, equipped with a pre-contact fuse. The device is capable of speeds up to 110 km / h and stay in the air for up to half an hour. The operating range, taking into account the search for a target in a given area, is up to 40 km.
The larger Lancet-3 weighs 12 kg and carries a 3 kg warhead. In terms of flight characteristics, it is similar to the second product of the family, but differs in an increased flight time. Such a UAV is capable of staying in the air for up to 40 minutes.
The principle of operation of both devices is quite simple. The Lancet takes off from the rail and, in automatic or manual mode, is sent to the specified area. The strike can be carried out at previously known coordinates or with a search for a target during patrolling. In the latter case, the operator has the opportunity to find the target and take it for escort, and then give the command to carry out the attack. It is also possible to use external target designation from a reconnaissance UAV. It is curious that in this case, the ammunition does not need satellite navigation. The flight to the target is carried out using its own navigation system.
This year it became known that the Zala Aero has developed a new method of group use for air defense - "air mining". In this case, several "Lancets" should be on patrol in a given area and monitor the airspace. If any enemy aircraft is detected, the kamikaze drone must go to the ram. There are no return and boarding options.
Benefits and Potential
As it became known last year, "Lancets" and other Zala / Kalashnikov developments are already being purchased by the Ministry of Defense and even used as part of the Syrian operation. This shows that such a technique not only has a high potential, but also meets the requirements and wishes of the army.
One of the main advantages of the two "Lancets" can be considered the very fact of their appearance. In the field of UAVs and loitering ammunition, our country is still lagging behind the advanced states, but all the necessary measures are being taken. Any new projects, such as the Lancet, can reduce the backlog and give the army new opportunities.
Together with such equipment, the army gains new capabilities in the context of detecting and destroying ground targets - and more recently, air targets. At the same time, the complexes are made light and compact, which simplifies their use.
UAVs are characterized by high flight characteristics, with special attention paid to increasing maneuverability. The developers claimed that it was for this purpose that the aerodynamic design "double X" was used. The wings of the original design create the necessary lift and have high rigidity, which allows you to fly and perform active maneuvers without the risk of deformation and disruption of aerodynamics. First of all, it is necessary for more accurate hitting the target. In addition, control algorithms have been developed, due to which the "Lancet" in flight can simulate the unpredictable trajectory of a bird, making it difficult for the enemy's air defense.
"Lancets" have a multicomponent guidance system with three modes of operation - optics (day and night), coordinates, or both. This increases the flexibility of use and the likelihood of successful detection and destruction of a ground target. In addition, the UAV does not need restructuring to participate in "air mining".
Kamikaze drones also have economic advantages. So, in terms of range, accuracy and power "Lancet-3" is similar to existing and future guided artillery shells. According to the development company, the UAV is much cheaper than such an ammunition, and is also capable of conducting reconnaissance of the target before it is destroyed. Thanks to this, loitering ammunition can complement or even replace artillery in some situations.
However, the real prospects of "Lancets" are limited by some unfavorable factors. Thus, the class of loitering ammunition is new for our industry and army. Accordingly, while we are talking about the accumulation of design experience and the development of methods of combat use. Perhaps, as a result of this, the existing designs still retain some drawbacks, and their potential is not fully realized in practice.
UAVs "Lancet" are disposable, and therefore it is necessary to create a large stock of such weapons. This imposes certain requirements on the manufacturing facilities of the manufacturing organization, on the supply of finished components, etc. Hopefully, Zala Aero is capable of producing different types of drones in the required quantities.
The obvious need
The experience of conflicts in recent years clearly shows the potential and capabilities of loitering munitions in general, and also proved the need for their creation. Until recently, our army did not have such weapons, but now the situation is changing for the better. At the same time, unlike a number of other countries, Russia creates such products on its own.
Zala Aero has already presented three versions of kamikaze drones - two modifications of the Lancet and the Cube product. It may develop new products of this kind in the future. In addition, one should expect the emergence of similar projects from other organizations with experience in the creation of unmanned aerial systems.
What these processes will lead to is already clear. In the future, the Russian army will receive loitering ammunition of various types with different characteristics, from which it will be possible to compose a flexible and convenient weapon system for engaging a wide range of targets in a wide range of ranges. And the first step in this direction has already been taken - they were two "Lancets" in army units.