UK Ministry of Defense: Kamikaze Drones Give Russia ‘Step Change’ in Ukraine Attack Capability

Russia's use of Lancet one-way attack UAVs has been one of the most effective capabilities it has deployed in the last year of the war, according to British military intelligence.

Russia’s use of loitering kamikaze drones to attack priority targets in Ukraine has created “a step change” in its attack capability, according to British military intelligence.

“Russia’s Lancet small one-way-attack uncrewed aerial systems (OWA UAVs) have highly likely been one of the most effective new capabilities Russia has fielded in Ukraine over the last 12 months,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Wednesday in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It is designed to be piloted over enemy territory, waiting until a target is identified, before diving towards it and detonating.”

Russian sources claim its military began using a new version of the Lancet UAVs as of October 21 and that it is testing them for mass synchronized swarm strikes, according to an assessment released Saturday by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The UAVs are manufactured by Russian ZALA Aero Group, which also produces small, unarmed Orlan 10 UAVs often used with Lancets for target reconnaissance. 

“Russia deploys Lancets to attack priority targets, and they have become increasingly prominent in the key counter-battery fight, striking enemy artillery,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said. “Traditionally, Russia has used small UAVs mainly for reconnaissance. With its attack capability, Lancet has been a step change in how Russia uses this category of weapons.”

The development comes as Ukrainian defense officials say they are ready to step up the country’s drone production. 

Speaking at the NATO-Industry Forum in Stockholm last week, Oleksandr Kamyshin, the Ukrainian minister of strategic industries who oversees the country’s defense industry, said the country is preparing to produce thousands of UAVS every month. 

During the past 21 months of war with Russia, Ukraine has deployed a wide variety of the aircraft, including suicide or kamikaze drones, such as U.S.-made Switchblade loitering munitions; large combat UAVs such as Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2; insect-sized surveillance drones such as Norway’s Black Hornet; and hobbyist or first-person-view drones from China’s DJI.


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